Annual Review Process
In 2019 we went from a self/peer review process that was mostly on paper to an annual retrospective that is an interactive group activity. This change was initiated by the desire to get better peer involvement and to get more valuable feedback for the person being reviewed.
As a company, we want to continuously move towards an open culture where we can give feedback early, often, and openly. The new "annual retrospective" helps us accomplish this. The process isn't cumbersome and the reviewee leaves with actionable and valuable feedback. It has also led to our entire team regularly getting practice in giving their peers and managers constructive feedback.
How it works
The person being reviewed will be contacted by someone on the management team who will initiate the process by asking the reviewee to choose 5 people who they think can provide them meaningful feedback. The reviewee will schedule the retrospective with the member of the management team and the 5 individuals. The member of the management team will facilitate the retrospective, starting with setting the stage. They will encourage the group to come to this retrospective with an open heart and desire to help the person being reviewed to get valuable feedback that can help them continue to grow. We acknowledge that it can be difficult to give critical feedback but that by learning how to do so, we can normalize it, and remove the emotional barrier that can get in the way of resolving tensions and growing as individuals.
The retrospective board asks for Appreciations, What is working, What needs improvement, and Recommendations. After the group inputs cards into those columns, we read aloud the Appreciations and What is Working columns. Then we sort the What needs Improvement and Recommendations cards into categories. Next the reviewee can ask questions about any particular card and we can dive into deeper discussions.
After the retrospective is done, the reviewee chooses 1-2 Improvements and 1-2 Recommendations to focus on over the next 60 days. They will get support from the folks who gave you the feedback or someone else who they deem helpful. Once those 2-4 items are accomplished or well underway, the reviewee comes back to their board to prioritize the next thing they want to focus on. At the beginning of the next review period, they will look back on the previous year's board to see what has been accomplished.
If a team member is feeling uncomfortable about this process we encourage them (and everyone) to prioritize going to the reviews they are invited to, in order to see first hand how it works, and to get practice on giving feedback. We also will do coaching on giving and receiving feedback in an open way.