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  • Jeremy Cooper

This year is 7 years long (so far), how do you review it?

It’s that time of year when we complete our end of year review, think back as it feels like 7 years


2020 is a unique leap year. It has 29 days in February, 300 days in March and 5 years in April 🤣😫😵😡 (stole this joke)

The daylight seems so short and far between, it felt like the sun never came out the other days and the school run was just frost and fog, however, the boys liked blowing dragon smoke on the way to school, so not all bad, and we still have almost a month to go till the shorted day


As well as now being the run up to the end of the year celebrations, it’s also time for the end of year review cycles at most companies and I wanted to provide a few tips that have worked really well for me in the past.


It can be difficult to write a self-assessment, many people are not confident enough to ‘sell’ themselves or do a little showing off, however, if you don’t it’s not likely that others will. This is your chance to show what you’ve done this year, which feels like a really long one and then set yourself up for 2021


"Without proper self-evaluation, failure is inevitable" - John Wooden


In some ways I don’t really like the end of year process as I believe it gives the excuse for many managers to not discuss performance properly during the year, however, we are where we are.


The most important thing to remember is that this YOUR end of year review, yes, the company likely requires it, however, it’s also for your personal benefit. It is to allow you to show you’ve performed to the level required of you but just as importantly it provides you a trigger to go carry out some self-evaluation on what you have achieved, what did you learnt, what did you like, where can you improve etc.


"Stringent standards of self-evaluation [can] make otherwise objective successes seem to be personal failures" - Albert Bandura


So, go grab a coffee or wine/beer (if it helps you relax), find a quiet spot and start to review yourself. I always suggest to not do all your review in one go, it’s best to prepare and draft, then enter the info or review at a later date. This can help as it provides some reflection time and if you’re anything like me, you’ll remember something important just after entering if you do it all in one go.


Firstly, re-read your goals, performance targets and development plan, I’m sure you read it EVERY week 🙄 but it’s always good to refresh your memory. As you go through, pick out the key themes of the goal, any wins or challenges that pop to mind immediately

Next, and this one always helps me, is to read through your calendar from January to November and use it to remind you of all the activities you’ve worked on. Even in a ‘normal’ year it’s so easy to forget the excellent work you completed in the first few month due to the sheer volume of work we do.


Then review the data, as I’ve said before I’ve really discovered the true value of data for your insights. It depends on your goals but if you’re operational then metrics like SLA’s, uptime, NPS are really important even if not specifically called out in the goal, if you work in engineering then it’s projects delivered on time, number of change induced incidents, customer satisfaction …. If you have access to historical data, also look at the trends, am I improving over time? Where could I therefore get to in 2021


If you’re looking for an end of year promotion or the push to move into another area, then you need to build the business case. This is your ideal time to sell yourself for what you’ve done at the next level or in the new area. Review any HR material on what is required at your job grade and the job grade above and call out specific examples of how you’re operating at that next level. This isn’t chicken or egg; you need to already be operating at the next level to be able to discuss a promotion.


Once you start to enter information into your system you need to ensure you put enough information and data in to justify your case, however, writing war and peace isn’t necessary and can also be a hinderance. If your line manager has a lot of direct reports or isn’t a details person then putting too much information in can put them off. Remember, this isn’t your biography and you don’t need it written out like it. Bullet points of insights, metrics and achievements are perfectly acceptable and can even make the important stuff pop out. A great metric hidden in lines of text is hard to stand out!


Finally, I’m sure most of us have missed goals or under achieved from what we were expected to achieve and for some areas this is ok due to the constraints laid on us from lockdown. However, please include details on what you worked on instead as there was a huge amount delivered that was out of scope of original goals e.g. TEAMs/Zoom roll outs, moving users remote, having to work remote. Just because it wasn’t on your goals list doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get credit for it!


I hope this helps frame some thoughts as I’m sure you’ve all done excellent work this year and it’s important to remember and reflect on that

An additional note for line managers

Please be considerate of people’s situations through the year as it has been pretty tough and maintaining in many areas is actually a great achievement. This is not an excuse for all goals but obviously some will have been impacted.


We’ve had impacts like it being harder to access end users, childcare and home schooling, lack of holidays and therefore inability to decompress, vendors couldn’t come on site which makes projects harder to deliver and a lot of new ways of working have needed to be figured out

Anyway, I hope this all helps and I’m always open to discuss to see where I can help you


From next week we switch focus to 2021!! 🥳