I recently finished delivering mid-year performance reviews to all members of my team as well as getting one from my supervisor. Overall, It was a great opportunity to touch base on goal status, opportunities for improvement and gather feedback on things I can improve to make our team a high-performing one.
But what is a high-performing team (HPT)?, well according to Wikipedia an HPT can be defined as a “group of people with specific roles and complementary talents and skills, aligned with and committed to a common purpose, who consistently show high levels of collaboration and innovation, that produce superior results”.
Take this concept applied to personal finance and the same could be said about a team of individuals, in this case, my wife and I, working together to achieve the common goal of reaching FIRE (financial independence, retire early).
But to truly know if we are being an HPT for achieving FIRE is important to know where we are at in terms of monitoring progress around personal and financial goals. This process facilitates holding ourselves accountable and capturing feedback to make adjustments to get us back on track. This time my wife helped me with giving myself a “mid-year performance review”.
I designed a very simple form for mid-year conversations. It certainly takes time and effort to put together (especially if you have a big team) but I believe documentation is critical especially when providing coaching and feedback to team members. The format I use is the following:
- Thank You: I believe it’s important to take a step back and thank individuals not only for their contributions but most importantly for demonstrating behaviors that are in line with the company’s core values.
- Goal Status: critical to make sure there’s alignment with team and company’s goals but also to provide guidance in terms of goals following the S.M.A.R.T. rules, i.e. goals need to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound
- Opportunities for Improvement: kind of self-explanatory but this is where I capture feedback around emotional intelligence focusing on self-awareness, networking, creativity, innovation & stepping out of your comfort zone.
- Continue/Start/Stop: also self-explanatory but here is where I provide guidance on behaviors that need to continue, start or avoid.
My Mid-Year Performance Review
This is not going to be easy but I’ve asked my wife to set the record straight just to make sure I hold myself accountable.
I started thinking about things I’ve done this year and they all appear to be regular tasks that show no extraordinary behaviors on my part. Yes, I’ve worked on setting up a strategy around our financial goals but I would consider that to be part of my roles and responsibilities. All in all, I’m really having a hard time (so is my wife) thanking myself for anything outstanding I’ve done this year. This is a big red flag for me and something that concerns me deeply.
- Spend more time with wife and kid: so I asked the wife to rate me on this goal on a scale from 0-10 and she immediately said 7 … Ouch!
- Do not use laptop, cell or Ipad until the kid goes to bed: the wife was even quicker on this one and she gave me a 3 … another Ouch!
- Read 2-3 investing books and 2-3 leadership books: currently at 1 for investing and 2 for leadership so not too bad.
- Be more active by working out at least 3 times/week: Terrible in Q1 but kicked butt in Q2 with running at lunchtime at work 3 times a week, hiking on Fridays and basketball on Saturdays. Currently off track due to an ankle sprain suffered while playing basketball.
- Maximize 401(k) contribution for 2017: currently at $11,460/$18,000 … ON TARGET
- Maximize HSA contribution for 2017: currently at $4,529/$6,650 … ON TARGET
- Get 2-3 rental properties: Closed on 1st property in Q1, 2nd and 3rd closed in Q2. Currently looking at 4th … COMPLETED
- Get umbrella insurance: in place by end of Q2 … COMPLETED
- Generate 2-3 sources of passive income: currently leveraging dividend-paying stocks, real estate and peer to peer lending … ON TARGET
- Lower health insurance amount: adjusted amount to match personal situation … COMPLETED
- Contribute to Roth IRA (via back door): saving for 4th rental, might contribute in Q3/Q4 … OFF TRACK
- Keep investing in 529: Regular contributions up to date with no plans to deviate from strategy … ON TARGET
- An emergency fund with 3-6 months of expenses at Ally Bank: currently have 10x monthly expenses which include capital for rental property and/or IRA contribution … COMPLETED
- Create will and trust: … OFF TARGET
- Research Real Estate Crowdsourcing and pull the trigger (if applicable): completed research and decided not to pursue … COMPLETED
- Start a blog so that I can share my journey: Decided to shut-down Facebook group (family and friends) and started www.ajourneytoFI.com … proud to say … COMPLETED
- Efforts to increase our net worth.
- Track our expenses and look for opportunities to cut down on things we don’t need.
- Leverage the beauty of automation for investing, saving and debt destruction.
- Look for flexible side hustles to make extra income.
- Be a resource for family and friends while keeping in mind concepts of emotional intelligence in FI.
- Publish one post per week. Two would be phenomenal but might take time away from family.
- Be patient with traffic on the blog. It would be great to see comments from a lot of people but that comes with great content and strategies to drive people to your site. My focus, for now, is to publish high-quality content that is of value to most folks followed by implementation of best practices for SEO.
- Dedicate more time to my family: This includes better work/life balance and also improving the time I spent on the blog. Starting this blog has been extremely rewarding but I need to work on time management so that I don’t sacrifice time with family or the quality of my content.
- Disconnect from work: I love my job but I really need to find a way to disconnect. This is even more important when on vacation with the family.
- Better communication: often times I find myself in conversations where my mind could be in other places. This has led to miss-communication and frustration. I need to be a better communicator with my wife and family.
- Be spontaneous: Asking my wife for things I could thank myself in Q1/Q2 and hearing crickets was a punch to my soul. There are things that I can certainly do to remediate this situation.
- Help more at home: Honestly, I don’t enjoy cleaning, cooking, etc but need to suck it up as it needs to be a team effort.
- Call my parents more often: No excuses from my part and also super easy to achieve.
- Focus on happiness: reflect on things that make me a happier individual and work even harder/smarter to live a happy life.
- Time on the phone, computer, and iPad: this is really affecting my family so I need to pair it down immediately.
- Be stressed about our financial situation: it is certainly important to make sure we are on track but sometimes I may have pushed too hard to the point that it has affected my ability to enjoy experiences with family and friends.
- Worrying about the things I can’t control: I say this all the time and yet I let it get to me. A better approach is to focus on influencing the things I can’t control in hopes of a better outcome.
So how do we put all this information together in the form of a final score? It should be pretty simple yet robust enough to honor current performance. To that end, I decided to use a rating system that accounts for both performance behaviors (PB) and strategies tied to personal finance (PF). In this mid-year performance review, I’m giving myself a rating of Below Average in PB and Average in PF.
I’ve been fortunate to have been a part of high-performing teams in my professional career; however, I need to remember that my most important team is my family.
While it was difficult to evaluate myself as an individual, I found it extremely valuable to have my wife helped me with this exercise. The benefits included: avoiding bias, incorrect assumptions and primarily making sure that I became aware of perceptions which at the end represent reality.
Initially, my wife had difficulties sharing her thoughts out of concern for my own feelings and emotions; however, I reassured it was something I really needed and deeply valued … Thanks, babe 🙂
Point forward, we plan to give each other quarterly performance reviews leveraging the template described in this post; however, I only plan to publish my final year performance review on the blog.
Definitely, not an easy post to write but one that I should view as an inflection point in my life.
Until next time … JJ