10 Things You Can Do Now To Prepare for End-of-the-Year Reviews

Posted by Trakstar • September 23, 2022 (Last modified August 18, 2023) • 8 min read

End-of-the-year reviews are creeping up – are you ready for them? If you aren’t already preparing, you might be unable to get the most out of your performance review cycle. End-of-the-year reviews are imperative for many organizations that work in quarters or sprints because they give you time to refocus, set goals and KPIs for the next few months, and look at what worked and what didn’t over the last year.

But don’t panic! Preparing for end-of-the-year reviews can start now if you are willing to sit down and think about your next steps. HR leaders and managers should prepare and talk to their employees about appraisals. So what can you do? Apart from scheduling a demo of Trakstar Perform and the entire Trakstar Platform, you can do these ten things:

Know How to Write End-of-Year Performance Reviews

How do you actually write end-of-the-year performance reviews? If this is your first time having to do so – or you’ve done them before and didn’t find a value in them – it may be time to reevaluate how you write your end-of-the-year performance appraisals. These are different from other reviews and require specific language, sections, and intent.

If you want to prepare for end-of-the-year reviews and learn more about writing them, you can check out our Trakstar Academy article here or sign up for our webinar: Preparing For Your End of the Year Reviews.

Think About End of Year Business Reviews

Think about what your business goals were for the year and what your company would get as an overall performance grade. Did you meet your goals? Where did you succeed, and where did you fall short? You will have to answer some of these questions about your workforce, so you may want to consider things like retention, churn, time-to-hire, employee engagement, burnout rates, training courses, and more. 

You can do this by manually doing the math, or if you are a Trakstar client, you can use the Insights dashboard. There, you’ll find presentation-ready graphics you can just pull to put into your reports, slideshows, and performance reviews.

Look Over End of Year Summary Performance Review Examples

If you haven’t done performance reviews before, you may want to look over some examples of what a good performance review looks like. You can look at samples in Trakstar Academy or ask around at your company to see what they’ve done before now. If you have a manager, they should be able to provide you with guidance. 

Looking at examples can help you do things like write SMART goals, create improvement plans, and so much more that make the end-of-year performance review even more potent.

Build Your End of the Year Review Template

Building your review template is easier than you think! It’s essential to create something that you can use across your workforce. Why? You’ll quickly be able to see what works and what doesn’t, which will help you to refine your end-of-the-year performance review plan and improve engagement and results. Performance reviews don’t work if you don’t refine them! It would be best if you changed things like competencies, focus, and even the order of questions. Even micro-changes can make a huge impact.

Build your template ahead of time and share it with other managers and leaders who use reviews. This will help you to get feedback before you actually use the template! If your company has a preset review template, be sure to review it and understand what each section is for and why it is there.

Plan End of the Year Review Questions

What are you going to ask your employee in their performance review? There are formal questions you can ask and then informal questions that will help paint the action plan after reviews – even for good reviews! Some things you may want to talk about include:

  • Succession planning
  • Leadership ideas
  • Creativity
  • Problems they see
  • Professional development

Use these as conversation starters, but be ready to think on your feet as well. If you want even more performance review questions, you can check out the blog from Julie Rieken about what she asks.

Send Out Reminders For End of the Year Performance Reviews

Now is the time to remind employees that they will have end-of-the-year reviews! You can do this in a few different ways. With Trakstar, you can send out reminders for reviews via email and Slack. This integration will send them a reminder right where they spend a lot of their time – through a Slack conversation. You can use this app to remind them about self-reviews, send out end-of-the-year surveys, and more.

If you don’t use Trakstar Perform, you can manually send reminders via email. This will take more time, but getting more participation in your performance review cycles is worth it. 

Encourage End-of-the-Year Performance Review Comments By Employees

After you remind employees that end-of-the-year reviews are coming, you want them to take action. Have them take notes (if you are using Trakstar Perform, there is a notes feature built right in, so they can’t lose them!). This will help them do self-reviews and maybe identify areas where they are struggling now so they can start to make improvements before their review even occurs.

If you are collecting 360-reviews from other employees, now is the time to get them to make notes on their coworkers and even give their reviews so that you can parse through them and get answers, create plans, and identify struggles.

Review Previous End-of-Year Reviews For Long-Term Employees

Hopefully, this isn’t your first end-of-year review for most of your employees. You want to sit down and review previous appraisals that you’ve done with that employee to get some talking points and understand what to cover and what has already been covered.

If there was something that the employee needed to work on, take the time to see if they have really made steps to address it, or if they just let it go by another quarter, six months, or year. From there, you can determine the next steps, form ideas, and mentally prepare for how the conversation will go. 

It’s equally important to do this step for underperforming employees and overachievers. You want to be able to grade performance and see where they came from and where they are going. Are they growing? Remaining stagnant? This can be a red flag for even the best employees. 

Think About Actionable Employee End of Year Review Next Steps

If you put your employee on a performance improvement plan or think that could be the next step, how are you helping them get back on track? You want to think about these next steps before your performance review occurs. Why? You don’t want them to feel hopeless or lost in what to do next. This could lead to further disengagement, employee churn, burnout, and many more things that impact your company and your employee’s mental well-being.

If you have training courses created within your learning management system, you can assign those courses to your employee to take on their own time. This will allow them to take control over their improvement and show autotomy in correcting what went wrong, but it also helps them get where they need to be. The goal should always be to improve someone’s performance. You can also connect that employee to a mentor who will help them as well. However, this puts more of a burden on the employee who is already doing their job, which is why an LMS may be your best approach.

Don’t have a learning management system in place? Trakstar Learn connects to Trakstar Perform so that you can automatically assign courses and content to your employees after an end-of-the-year performance review. Click here to read more about Trakstar Learn or schedule a personalized demo today.

Tie Current Reviews To Upcoming Performance Initiatives

What goals does your company have for the next quarter, 6-months, or even year? Try to tie your performance review goals to those initiatives, particularly if you have goals about performance reviews themselves! Get your employees on a schedule of leaving notes in their performance management system so that they feel empowered to talk about their work when they do a personal review. 

If you want your employees to focus on a specific initiative, like improving internal communication, working better as a team, or setting departmental goals, try to create performance goals that at least contribute to those initiatives. While we always encourage transparency, you can create these initiatives and goals even if you aren’t ready to announce them to the rest of the company.

Need Help With End Of Year Performance Reviews? Trakstar’s Here

End-of-the-year performance reviews don’t have to seem like a punishment for your employees! So much of how people react to your performance reviews go back to your company culture surrounding them. Do you make performance reviews a time to punish your employees – or a time for improvement and celebration? There’s room for both constructive criticism and applause.

Worried that your end-of-the-year reviews are going to go wrong? Trakstar has perfected performance reviews – and the steps you need to take after them. Our software streamlines the performance review process and ensures everyone is heard and seen – and they actually look forward to performance review season!

 To schedule a demo, click here.

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