The end of the year review is a great time to reflect upon your partnership with your direct reports. It’s an opportunity to zoom out and introspect about how work can get better. I have seen a lot of managers treat this as a performance review meeting. Which it’s not (more details below!).
Zoom out, and don’t get lost in small tasks!
This is not the time or place for you to finecomb go through the status of projects. You should ideally be focusing only on:
- Did the person grow in their personal and professional skills
- What are their career goals and do they align with your team’s
- How’s the team member feeling about coming year
- How can you help them get to their next level
- What are the team goals for the coming year. What are theirs?
Your job is to help the other person introspect. Setting up the right agenda will help you do that.
You are not here to judge or evaluate. Focus on strengths.
While there is a time to do that, this is not it. Don’t make the classic mistake of using this meeting to rate the person on a scale of 1-10. If you do have negative critical feedback to share with that person, definitely add to the agenda. But maybe try starting with the positive things first.
Where did the person improve? Which projects were done really well? What metrics did they move positively? And most importantly, what will be their legacy?
Have documentation ready
Good leaders back up their words with substance. Ideally should prepare for the meeting with:
- Past 1-on-1 meeting notes
- A list of projects done by the person
- What metrics did they help move
- Previous feedback given to them and how they improved
When talking about skills and progress, it is important to be specific & contextual. One framework I love to use for this is TRMs (Task Relevant Maturity). An easy to use table that shows growth across important skills for the team member will go a long way in helping them visualise where they stand.
You can use the same approach to help them visualise the future too. This is where they stand, and this is where they need to go.
Help them set goals
It’s not all about the past! You two are a team and you must plan well for the coming year too. There are two items here:
Their personal goals
Try to figure out what their career north star is. Where would they like to be? And how happy they are with their progress towards it until now. Many team members freeze when it comes to “life goals” type questions. So you can also try being more specific here e.g.
- Where do you want to be in 2 years from today?
- Which 20% project would you like to pick up this year?
- What is the #1 skill you feel you are weak at today?
Alignment with team goals
Now that you know what they want, try and see how that fits into the bigger picture within your team. You will be surprised by what you find. Doing this alignment exercise has given me fantastic results in the past!
Don’t be a boring survey person
The internet is full of “performance review meeting questions”. Using those questions to spark a conversation is great. But don’t use this meeting as a survey collection opportunity! Don’t get lost in charts and data segments (like many employee pulse survey tools do!).
The more you can personalise the meeting for each person, the better. You don’t have a team of robots. They are humans.
End of year review tips for employees
It’s not just the manager who needs to prepare for this meeting. If you are an employee reading this, keep these in mind:
- Come prepared - Try to answer many of the questions in our end of year review meeting template yourself. Make a list of your projects and all the work you did
- Do a self review - It might help to do a self review yourself in advance! Where did you shine? What wasn’t good enough?
- Give feedback to the manager - Good managers will be expecting this from you actually.
- Contribute to the agenda - Let your manager know in advance that you want to talk about a few things like how to grow your skills, your ambitions etc.