As we continue delving into how to maximize your potential at work, another practical tool I’ve found very useful is a simple exercise called Review/Preview. While the exercise is simple, as with other such exercises, many people don’t have the discipline to apply it.
Here are a couple of Biblical groundings for the exercise:
- Genesis 1:31 (NIV) states, “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning – the sixth day.” God reviewed what He had made and concluded as to the result of that work.
- Proverbs 21:5 (ESV) gives us some counsel on previewing what is to come: “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.”
Similar to last week’s blog about the accomplishments memo, the Review/Preview exercise assists you in helping your manager to conclude/affirm what you’ve done and to plan/forecast what you’re about to do in the coming week. You can use this exercise daily for yourself, or monthly for your manager as well. You’ll need to determine the timeframe that works best for you.
Here are tips for preparing the weekly review/preview:
- Divide the one-page document into two sections – at the top is Review and midway down is Preview.
- Use bullet points versus paragraphs for the entire document. Keep it brief and easy to read.
- Write out 5-7 bullets for each section.
- For the Review section, think about what tasks you completed, accomplishments achieved, or lessons you learned and sketch those in brief phrases or sentences. The purpose is to enable your manager to quickly scan what you’ve done and agree/disagree with what you’ve outlined.
- Specifying what lessons you’ve learned enables the manager to be less critical of any errors you’ve made when he/she sees that you’ve learned from that mistake.
- Use numbers, percentages, and stats whenever possible – some metric is very useful.
- For the Preview section, think about what tasks, challenges, and situations are coming up and sketch those out. The purpose is to enable your manager to make sure your future activities align with his/her priorities for you. The better alignment, the less miscommunication and mistakes are made.
- I would spend no more than 15 minutes on this exercise – it’s meant to be a working document, not a work of art.
If you’re working a Monday-Friday job, sending this to your manager late Friday afternoon or first thing Monday morning would be ideal to enable conversations to occur prior to a full week of work passing by without potentially being aligned.
At its essence, this exercise actively shifts the burden of supervision to your manager…where it should be. Every manager I’ve spoken with whose direct reports did an exercise like this loved it and commented how it enabled clarity, alignment, and productivity to increase.
I’d encourage you to give it a try and see what results you’re able to achieve because of it!
Dave Sparkman currently serves as the volunteer Crossroads Career board chair and local ministry leader. He is also the founder and managing director of Spark Your Culture, a corporate culture consulting firm. Prior to that he worked at UnitedHealth Group, a Fortune #5 public company, serving in the role of Chief Culture Officer. His unemployment experience came from the implosion of Arthur Andersen, where he served as the West Region Managing Partner, People.