Performance Management

The End of Year Review: An Employee’s Guide

It’s that time of year. It doesn’t matter whether you identify as the high achiever who is always looking to improve their work or you are happy with your current progress rate, everyone still has to have their end of year review. It’s usually met with mixed emotions, a personal combo meal of excitement, interest and dread. But it doesn’t have to be anything outside of a positive progression for your career.

No one can deny it’s been a strange year for everyone around the world, individually and collectively. One of the places this has been most evident has been in how we work. Our long commutes to the office now largely consist of moving from one part of the house to another. Regardless of whether you are having this meeting in ideal or less than ideal circumstances, there are a couple of things you can do to ensure you utilise it for your optimum benefit. Let’s look at what you can do to make this a reality.


This can be a year-round commitment which sounds like a lot more work than it is. It’s simply note-taking. Nothing monumental, just jotting down when something went well, or when something didn’t and the kind of support you required. Or you might spot a specific area where you’d like to up-skill, for example. It should consist of anything worth documenting about your performance, experience and what you learned from it.

“You still have time.”

This practice avoids scenarios where you are wondering during the meeting what happened last February. And if you are having difficulty remembering, your manager will unlikely be able to recall. Instead, it best positions you for the session by really knowing your year. If you haven’t taken any notes from the last 12 months, that’s no problem. You still have time. Start now and make notes for these last few weeks. If that’s not an option, you can always make it your new year’s work resolution.


Don’t leave this until the morning of the session. Start the cogs turning now on how the year has been for you. Doing this in the office – whether that’s at home or not – won’t always work either. Plan a walk or schedule some time without interruption specifically focused on this.

What went well? What didn’t work? Where do you want to be this time next year? These kinds of things. It was your year, after all, so know it and own it. You may not get all the answers you want straight away, so allocate a follow-up session with yourself on this. Reflection takes time, so make time for it.

Know The Questions You Want To Ask

What do you want to know? When you sign off from the meeting, what information or clarity do you wish to have from it? Perhaps you’d like a mentor, want to talk about a difficult daily task or maybe you have something specific you wish to ask your manager.

If you have followed the other two steps, this will be easier to figure out as you’ll have a better idea of how your year went and where you want to go. Try not to leave all the talking to your manager. This is your session, so make sure you leave with what you came for.

Welcome Feedback

This is a key feature of these meetings, and feedback can be positive or constructive. The latter should not be taken personally but that is easier said than done.

To help with this:

  1. 1

    Schedule in ten or fifteen minutes before this meeting that no one can interrupt.

  2. 2

    Use it to get yourself into the right headspace.

  3. 3

    Take time to ground yourself and remind yourself why this meeting is happening in the first place as well as what you want to get out of it.

  4. 4

    Avoid digitally dashing from one video call to the next.

Your end of year review is about your development. You should hear praise and areas for improvement. But make sure you take both away with you from the meeting and bring them into your next year. If you feel like you aren’t getting adequate feedback from your manager, ask for it. If all you are hearing is negative, ask for the positives too and visa versa.

It goes both ways, and to get the best from this crucial meeting; you need to be open to giving and receiving feedback. Remember, it isn’t a bad thing, it’s what helps us move forward, and you can prepare for it.

Be Honest

Although it can sometimes feel like it, this isn’t your interview where you are trying to make a good impression. It’s your end of year review, which is about growth. For the desired outcome, you need to be honest about your experiences this year and your aspirations for the next.

“Whatever your story, tell your manager the truth.”

Don’t assume your manager knows everything that’s been happening for you and your team. They don’t. If you don’t tell them, they won’t know. And you can’t rely on anyone else to inform them of something that impacted you. This is your chance to let them know.

This is especially true this year with operations changing in a nanosecond. Maybe working from home is for you, or perhaps you struggled. Whatever your story, tell your manager the truth. They want and need to hear it. It’s the only way they can better support you in the future.


Get your questions answered but actively listen to the responses as well as anything else your manager has to say. You want to leave this meeting with clarity on your performance, goals, and action plan. Make sure you leave understanding everything that was discussed and your next steps.

Use It As An Opportunity

It’s been the most extraordinary year. We’d recommend using this time to recalibrate. Then prepare for the year ahead. Your end of year review is your opportunity for a professional reset, to help you take stock, refocus and re-energise your career plans.

It’s your manager’s responsibility to support you in achieving your goals. But it’s your responsibility to achieve them. To do that, you need to be clear about what you want so they can help you get there. If you don’t know, they can help you figure it out. Either way, make sure you get the most out of your meeting, seize the opportunity. And if you need to have a follow up afterwards, then do.

“No matter how you performed this year, know you did your best.”

Most of all this year, we say cut yourself some slack. Perhaps you excelled, but maybe you didn’t. This year’s end of year review comes at the end of a defining year in history and one of the most challenging of all of our lives. Work didn’t just change for people, how we interact, socialise, shop, queue, approach our health and wellbeing as well as use our home has altered. We cannot expect ourselves to operate as normal when nothing has been operating as normal.

No matter how you performed this year, know you did your best. It may not feel like your best, but it was your best for this year, and that is enough. Try not to compare yourself to last year’s review or the member of your team who seemed to excel in 2020, because you aren’t comparing like with like. Everyone has been impacted differently and struggled in some way to adapt to their new way of being, not just working.

Instead, look at what you have achieved, considering the circumstances. Accept it, own it and be empowered by it. Then you are ready for your meeting. Use your end of year review to move your work life forward because no one else can champion your career like you can.

At Frankli, we’re on a mission to help businesses optimise their performance management process. We bring simplicity and transparency to your people’s experience through goal-setting, real-time feedback, 1:1s, pulse surveys and review cycles. If you’d like to know how we can do this for you, get in touch with Ronan, our CEO, today.

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