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Settling In: The Researcher's Guide to Your University

4.4 Managing your performance

To date we have explored priority management, time management, and career management. A fourth aspect of work-role management relates to performance management. This is often regarded as a 'dirty word' given its potential interpretation as suboptimal performance. In fact, performance management can be a researcher's good friend. Good performance management can offer many benefits. It can be an opportunity to:

  •  Review your contributions to the culture and community in which you work
  •  Monitor your alignment with university research priorities and directions
  •  Review your challenges and achievements over the last year
  •  Identify new aspirational research goals to be achieved in the coming year
  •  Review your career aspirations and explore how you might further their achievement
  •  Seek additional support and resources to assist with your research
  •  Review the alignment of your goals and activities with those of your university, research centre, or research team
  •  Clarify skills or capabilities that require further development
  •  Provide feedback on your current work experiences.

Each university encourages its staff to undertake regular performance reviews, and to make good use of these discussions. For a researcher, the chance to explore your career and current performance is particularly critical. The research context changes every year. This review can greatly assist in marrying your own research plans with those of your institution and positioning your focus within the wider higher education context. It also clarifies the performance expectations that exist for a person in your role. The regular (re)calibration of your goals with the institution's expectations is most essential.

The performance management discussion provides you with a chance to undertake personal reflection and planning, and also to seek feedback on areas that could be strengthened in the coming year. This is particularly valuable if you are focused on career advancement. Use the discussion to good effect to highlight your career goals and to explore other opportunities that might be harvested.

The most effective performance management discussion will occur if you are well prepared. Think about the 9 bullet points listed above and make sure you have fully considered these aspects well in advance. A written review of these areas, and a current curriculum vitae, can greatly assist your reviewer in also preparing for this process. Make this discussion work for you.

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