The company I work for is in the process of improving our review process. The intent of the review process is not so much to provide feedback to employees as it is to encourage us to set career goals, and then keep track of whether we have met them.
For example, the short-term goals I set myself at my last review were:
- Attend a Young CPA's breakfast
- Review some work of junior staff (to "practice" reviewing)
- Get more familiar with this one particular tax schedule that many of our clients file, but not many people at our firm know how to complete.
As of now, I have not accomplished #1, but hopefully I will go to the October breakfast. I did get to review a tax return, which was cool. I think reviewing helps me get better at remembering what to check on my own returns, because sometimes it's easier to pick up on errors when you are the fresh set of eyes. I managed to get in a lot of practice with that particular tax schedule this tax season. I am more comfortable with it now, but it seems like every time I start to understand more, there is a new layer of questions and gray areas where the "experts" at our firm disagree. But I definitely feel good about that one!
Setting professional career goals
Goals aren't just for accountants! If you have to set career goals at work, remember that you can keep them simple and achievable. I could say I want to make partner, but that isn't a good goal, because it's not something I can get up every day and do. It's too big of a concept. Instead, maybe I can decide what are important steps to make myself more valuable to the firm, like developing more networking contacts. Then my goal can be to attend at least one networking event every two weeks. That's something I can control and measure - I either go to an event, or I don't, I can decide whether or not to go.
Brainstorm a list of goals for yourself. Then, look over your list and ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you control whether you accomplish this goal? Or is it ultimately up to someone else to cooperate?
- Will you know when the goal has been accomplished? Is the goal clear enough to know when it is complete, or is it too open-ended to be sure? (ex. "Lose weight" is unclear - are you done after you lose 1 lb or 20 lbs?)
- How long will it take you to accomplish this goal? If it is unlikely the goal will be accomplished in the next year, you may want to break it into smaller, more frequent targets.
Do you set goals for yourself at work? What are some examples of the career goals you're working on at the moment?