Today, I started writing annual reviews for my team members.

The process begins with each team member sending me their “wins” for the year. As their leader, it’s important I don’t forget or miss any substantial contributions they have made.

From there, I write a review encompassing the following:

-Their job description – It’s important to clarify job descriptions as a person’s roles and responsibilities can evolve during the year – it’s critical to provide clarity for their year ahead.

-The overview of their work – This is typically client by client, as well as their AOE and contribution to the team at large.

-Career Growth – What is next for them and what they need to do to get there?

-Evaluation Summary – Areas of strengths and weaknesses / room for improvement – I try to phrase the latter from a perspective of how they can be better to achieve their desired goals.

The reviews are usually 3-4 pages. They are difficult to write, but rewarding when completed. Since some team members refer to these review throughout the year to measure their progress, I do my best for this document to serve as a north star of what they can achieve next year.

This annual process was loosely derived from a book called High Output Management by Andy Grove, the former CEO of Intel. This book is one of the most essential ever written on managing people and processes.

Lastly, I usually will have at least three team members write reviews of me.

If you work at a company where this formal annual review process (especially in writing) doesn’t exist, I do not think it’s out of line to ask your superior to draft a report along these guidelines. You can mention it may take them a couple hours, but will save countless hours moving forward in assuring your visions are aligned for next year and beyond.

Managers (of people, not artists) can typically handle anywhere from 6-10 people reporting to them, so if you work at a company with over 10 people, the CEO may not be the person tasked with writing your review. However, it can’t hurt to ask for their feedback as well. They might not be able to do it for everybody, but most won’t have the courage to ask.

You also don’t have to work at a company at all to conduct this process. If you work alone, you may not be able to perfectly see how others perceive you and your growth, but you can still write a review for yourself to refer back to and continue to measure your progress over the years.

“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” -Bill Gates

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