I’m close to completing my first year on a Developer Relations team. As I evaluate my own performance over the last year and set goals for my next year as a Technical Community Builder, I wanted to share how I’ve broken down my self-evaluation and goal setting. I don’t think you need to be on a DevRel team to find this useful. Based off of my responses to these questions, I’d like to work on creating self-evaluation points and put them in my calender during the next year.
Take some time to write down as much as you want for each of these questions. Remember, it’s important to be honest with yourself. You don’t have to show this to anyone. This is just for you.
What are your strengths?
This can be measurable: I can get a blog post written really quickly, as demonstrated by my four published posts in the last four weeks. But don’t limit yourself to traditionally measurable things: My gut reaction is often right. And in some cases, it might be something that you consider a strength that others might not: I take my time to make sure I’ve explored a variety of perspectives before jumping into a new initiative. Some people might think this process requires too much time and isn’t necessary. For this exercise, we don’t care about them.
What are your weaknesses?
This might be the hard part for you. Think about what impacts your day-to-day work. I want to emphasize here that weakness doesn’t mean failure. Weakness is an opportunity to improve. For example, I think one of my weaknesses is creating technical blog posts really quickly. Maybe this is a part of my background in English education or years of writing screenplays or, maybe it’s a part of me being an introvert, but I really like taking time to think through the story I’m telling, to keep my audience engaged, and create something meaningful. It’s much easier for me to create something that I’m invested in because it’s meaningful. I’m not great at writing pieces that I’m not invested in. But realistically, this is part of devrel, so I have to find a way to get better at it.
Where do you Thrive?
Not only understanding where you thrive will be good for you, but it will also be good to share with your manager as well. It’s your manager’s job to figure out how to utilize your strengths as part of the job. It’s your job to share what you think those strengths are.
To be honest, it’s easier for me to identify my weaknesses rather than my strengths. But I’m also super lucky to be part of a great community where I can ask people what they think my strengths are. I can say that I think communicating my ideas are a strength, thinking through ideas, identifying my/our target audience, writing about what I’m passionate about, and educating others are part of my strengths. I’ve been able to identify these as strengths based on past experiences where I’ve received feedback from my superiors in different job situations. Feedback is often a gift.
I really thrive when there are clear expectations. Actually, I’d say a weakness is ambiguous situations where there are no clear goals or growth journeys. I want to know where I can grow and think about how to break down the steps to that growth.
What do I Need to Succeed?
We all need something different. For me, I need feedback. Feedback allows me to better understand how to grow, improve, and be consistent. It’s hard to be motivated to improve if you don’t know how to improve.
What do I Want to be Doing More of?
This often builds on your strengths and weaknesses, but it doesn’t have to. There might be something that hasn’t made it onto the list that you want to do more of. I spent tens years in teaching before moving over to tech. I’ve been here about 3.5 years. I didn’t realize it would happen, but I miss teaching right now. I miss the development of the course materials. I miss having discussions with students, and learning and growing with each other. I miss the sense of completion at the end of the semester. I’d love to feel the same reward I did when I was teaching.
What I want to be doing less of?
What sucks your energy? What makes you feel ineffective? What are the things in your calendar that make you feel like you’ve been wasting your time? Well, you may have read my [Making Better Meetings] (https://dev.to/bekahhw/making-better-meetings-469m) post and this is a big part of what I want to decrease in the next year. I want meaningful meetings with clear agendas, that are within my work hours.
I also spend a lot of times answering DMs with the same questions. I can’t do this next year. I have four kids who are growing so fast, and I don’t have extra time to take away from them. My goal is to blog about the most common questions I receive to share with those who DM me. I’d love to be able to DM everyone back, but at this stage of my life I don’t have the capacity. I have to draw boundaries if I want to be successful next year.
What are Three Areas I want to Improve in?
Okay, now I’m getting into the goal setting aspect of this. Where do I want to improve?
###Public Speaking I’m nervous every time I speak in public. Some talks I’m better than in others. This year I gave so many brand new talks and that’s not every something I want to repeat again. I think I’ve had 8 next talks in the last year. I don’t want to write a new talk in 2023. I want to improve my speaking ability, be authentic, and stay on topic. For me, it’s important to not over prepare. It’s important to me to deliver the talk with authentic emotion. I’ll continue to apply to conferences, but I think the four talks I’ll focus on in the next year:
- How to Apologize
- Do You Really Need a Community
- A Person-Centered Approach to Tech
- The Power of Storytelling To be honest, I’m in love with each of these topics. I think that makes me more effective. I can share what I’m passionate about in a way that other people can learn from the experience.
I do a really bad job of turning off work. My husband suggested I limit the post-work times I talk about work and I think it’s a good idea. Work and community strategy shouldn’t consume my thoughts all the time. In fact, I think I’d be more effective if I didn’t think about it all the time. Allowing yourself to be deliberate with what you think about is incredibly important in working towards a peaceful life.
It seems like in DevRel, there’s never enough time. There’s the next thing and endeavor. So you don’t have time to improve, grow, reassess. Next year, I’ll be focused on how I can continue to grow, learn, and support others in a way that’s reasonable for me and my family. I can’t feel like I’m always working. And it’s not fair to them to feel like they come second to a slack message. But I have to be effective during working hours. This means that I want to allot a certain amount of time to each of my main tasks during the week and make sure that I don’t prevent myself from fulfilling those tasks.
What are Your 2022 Highlights
This builds off of your strengths, but it requires you to be more specific. Think about the things you did, that you feel made an impact in the last year. To be honest, this is really hard for me. What makes it worse it that the last quarter of the year, I’ve been struggling to feel like I’m helping, impacting, or supporting anyone. This is certainly an argument for building in retros for your projects. If you keep track of them as you work through them, it’s easier to remember them at the end of the year.
I’m still working on this section, but I’d love to hear what your highlights are!
So many of our goals are tied to what we see in our nearby future. At some point we need to look at the bigger future and our life outside of our job. What do we want our career to look like? How can we tie all the things we’ve worked on above to be a part of our career? How does our idea of our career differ from the job we have/want now?
For example, I would love to keynote a conference. This ties into my goals for what I want to do more of, but does’t exactly tie into what I’m doing now. If I don’t become a keynote speaker in the next year, my team isn’t going to negatively judge my progress, but I’ll realize that I haven’t put in the work to meet my personal goals. So right now, I need to create a list of steps that will help me to actualize those goals.
And for this part of your growth plan, you should think about your goals and how you can break them down to meet your career aspirations. There’s nothing wrong with identifying your growth plan and following it as you move forward.
As you evaluate yourself, your progress, and your goals, consider what might be immediate to today and what might change. How will you adapt to change? What’s important to you as you work to make change a good experience? How will you take your needs into 2023 and break down those goals? How will you track those goals? Hopefully, after I’ve broken down my goals, I’ll post and do check-ins over the next year. If you want accountability for your own goals, let me know. My first DevRel planning and goal-setting session is this coming week, but I’m always down to do async sessions.