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nine to five
The question

About a year ago, before COVID-19, I received an average rating at my performance-evaluation review. I really want to be an above-average employee. Now that we are working remotely, I don’t know how to get my manager’s attention and to show her how hard I am trying to raise my average score. What should I do?

The first answer

Colleen Clarke, workplace coach and career specialist, Toronto

It is truly more difficult to be visible to your manager and to highlight your professional accomplishments when working from home for 12 months. There are ways to up your visibility and improve your performance if you make a plan, be consistent, take the initiative and assertively herald your results.

Review your performance evaluation from last year and ascertain what areas, skills and knowledge needs to be worked on now, soon and later in the year.

Once you have a plan, meet with your boss and share your plan with her. Take the initiative and offer to write and submit weekly or monthly progress or new idea reports. Record learnings and discoveries you experienced and share them on video webinars or in a written article. Create a newsletter with articles with quotes from colleagues about their expertise and adventures over the past month.

Offer to be a mentor or ask to be mentored or start a mentor/mentee program. Suggest a social “wrap up of the week” every Friday at 4:30, for instance.

Volunteer or ask to chair a group meeting for the experience and for the visibility. Study up on best practices for virtual meetings.

Use I, not we, when you give feedback or activity reports, so your manager knows what you have been doing to make a difference, which also makes you sound confident but not boastful.

The second answer

Jocelyn Chang, founder and CEO, Imagine Better Solutions, Vancouver

There are three major steps I’d suggest to employees in this situation.

First, I’d recommend that you deeply connect with your job’s functions in the company. No matter what role you have, there are always ways to improve relevant skills. Take some time to research the different methods of advancement in those particular skill sets.

Second, share your findings and committed pursuit with your manager to start a conversation around whether you’re on the right track to improved performance. Ensure that you and your manager have an aligned understanding of ratings and how you are going to move up from being “average.” You can do this by tying SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-based) goals to your performance program with your manager. That way, you will be much clearer about what to work on and why it’s relevant.

Third, be present and engaged in your role, whether it’s during virtual meetings or doing individual contributor tasks. Virtual meetings can dampen anyone’s willingness to speak up, which is why your engagement can be shown through other methods, such as e-mailing your final thoughts as your contribution or setting up time to debrief with the meeting facilitator.

You can also engage using the chat function in meetings. Start with “I didn’t want to interrupt the rhythm of our meeting, but I was thinking that we should consider…” Once you embark on this journey to become more accountable for your own work, alignment and growth, you will become more relevant and important to your manager.

Have a question for our experts? Send an email to NineToFive@globeandmail.com with ‘Nine to Five’ in the subject line. Emails without the correct subject line may not be answered.

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