How To Get the Most Out of Your Startup’s Year-End Review

by | Operations


End-of-year performance reviews provide a unique opportunity to kindly point out something that someone may not see in themselves. It is nearly impossible to not be biased when thinking about oneself. The beauty of performance reviews is that someone else on the team will see something you don’t, and that information could be key in unlocking the next level of your performance. 

In a startup environment, it’s hard to pause and reflect because teams run at such a fast pace. The time must be carved out for performance reviews, otherwise, they are unlikely to occur. Ultimately, individual and company improvement compounds over time–so if you don’t carve out time for performance reviews–you lose out on the opportunity to improve.

Performance Reviews: Things to Consider

👉 It is crucial for the leader to value and drive the initiative if you want your team engaged and for the exercise to make an impact on the organization.

👉 Work with your manager to set goals. Perhaps you plan to complete a big project in the next quarter or improve your skills by completing a program or getting a certification. Once the goal is set, ask yourself—is it possible for me to measure my success in achieving that goal? If the answer is yes then you’re good to go.

👉 You might realize that there are a number of review processes to consider. Before you get overwhelmed, go back to your goal. This goal will ultimately help you select the best platform for performance reviews for your organization. Do your research and compare tools. Consider how customized you want your questions to be– this will heavily impact the cost of the performance review software. You will also want to define:

  • Who will participate
  • What will be asked
  • When they will take place, 
  • How often you’ll conduct reviews
  • How you will roll them out to the team and 
  • How you will tactically implement the review process

👉 Provide as much training to the team as possible, and ask for feedback. It is important to encourage team members to look at the feedback and perhaps identify a way to keep the feedback top-of-mind so that progress can evolve over time.

👉 Measure your performance. To quote Peter Drucker, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”

👉 Learn, improve, and repeat. Ideally, the process will improve over time. You’ll be surprised to learn that it will become something that everyone looks forward to and something employees value as a means of improving and growing as team members and individuals.

How to Roll Out End-of-Year Performance Reviews to Your Team

Depending on the size and culture of the company, you can either talk to leadership or all team members to determine a cadence that makes sense for everyone. Some performance review software providers will conduct training sessions with the team on your behalf. If that is not an option, a mixture of self-guided training and a few team training sessions should suffice. 

Throughout the review cycle, be available for questions and monitor progress to anticipate roadblocks. The structure will depend on the team. Consider your company values and how that play into this process. 

At HVL, our organization is relatively flat, and for us, the 360 feedback review for managers and their team members, along with peer feedback, was the cornerstone for implementing our review initiative. We feel strongly that each person on the team will benefit from hearing what others have to say in regard to their strengths and opportunities.

Performance Reviews Framework: What To Include

A good performance evaluation framework will include identifying strengths, areas for improvement, and evaluation of how a team member exhibits the company’s values. 

As I mentioned, there is no shortage of ways to implement performance management. At HVL, we established a self, manager, upward, and peer review process. Our goal was to create a culture of continuous and candid feedback to promote an environment of growth and development for each team member. We believe this feedback structure is conducive to achieving that goal.

Key Takeaways

✅ Choose a framework that aligns with your company structure and core values.

✅ Be available. Encourage your team to ask clarifying questions about the process and why it’s important.

✅ Learn from the process, collect feedback and improve.

Finally, I want to leave you with a reminder that your people are your company. If team members improve, so will your efficiency and effectiveness as a team. End-of-year performance reviews are the best way to drive this improvement forward.