Do NOT do end-of-year reviews

8th December 2015

As 2015 draws to a close, you’ll be doing lots of reviews – customer reviews, staff reviews, team reviews…

And, of course, they’re important.

But they’re called "reviews". So they focus mainly on the past. And too little on the future.

And, although it’s essential to discuss the past and learn from it, the main purpose of a Review is to ensure things are better as a result.

In my company, we don’t have staff reviews. They’re too retrospective. They make us focus too much on 2015, not 2016.

So, we call them Previews.

And their subtitle is pretty self-explanatory too – "Ensuring you nail the next six months"

Our Previews then contain two bits – we discuss 2015, and then spend the bulk of the time on 2016.

When we discuss 2015, our questions are different than many people’s:

  • What has been your proudest success?
  • What’s the coolest thing you’ve done?
  • What was your happiest day at work this year?
  • Is your work-life helping your home life enough?
  • What was your biggest challenge this year? And are you happy we dealt with it well/quickly enough?
  • Etc

The rest (most) of the meeting focusses on next year. About what will make things better. Some of these questions are simply the opposite of the 2015 list – ‘What do you want to be your proudest success in 2016?’; ‘What do you hope will be the coolest thing you’ve done?’, and so on.

Plus, we also ask things like:

  • What can we do, to help you enjoy your job more?
  • When we sit round this table in a year’s time, what do you want us to be talking about that is different than what we’re talking about now?
  • And my two favourite questions of all (these come at the end):
  1. Given everything we’ve discussed, what one new thing do you want us to do, to help you enjoy your job more?
  2. And what one new thing will you be doing, to help you enjoy your job more?

Just to be clear: the motivation behind this tip is not "This is what I do. So, copy it".

Instead, it’s to remind you that the focus of year-end reviews is to discuss both 2015 and 2016; not just 2015.

Do your Reviews do this? Here are some simple ways to check:

  • Look at the questions on your review form. What’s the % split between last year/next?
  • Do your discussions give equal weight to last year and next?
  • After your reviews, have you agreed on crystal clear objectives, measures of success, actions, likely obstacles and how to overcome them, and such like?

And talking of reviewing/previewing things…

Action Point

… I hope you’ve enjoyed this tip and found it useful.

But the most important thing is what you do with it now. Which elements can you incorporate in your staff/customer reviews, to ensure they lead to a marked improvement in 2016?

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