Every Christmas, Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life graces our TV screens and pulls at our heartstrings. In the film, suicidal bank manager George Bailey wishes that he had never been born. But with the help of a guardian angel, he comes to realise the positive impact that his life has had on the town where he lives and the people that he loves.
At work, it’s often easier to remember challenges and failures than it is to remember success. The end of the calendar year may not be the end of your financial year, but it’s still a significant psychological milestone: a great opportunity to take stock of what went well. By doing an end of year review, the entire team can end the year on a high, appreciate the efforts of their colleagues and prepare themselves for next year’s challenges.
It’s important to start an end of year review with plenty of time to spare. Ideally, you want to finish the review before the bulk of your team head off on leave, and avoid it spilling into next year when people are more likely to be focused on the future than the past.
A quick way to identify successes from throughout the year is to brainstorm with your team. One way to do this is to gather your team together and ask for ideas. You can then write these on a flipchart and very quickly build up a picture of the year that was. Alternatively, you could collect ideas online by asking each member of your team to email you a success story, or to post a short summary on a shared spreadsheet like Google Drive or Microsoft SharePoint.
If you have more time, consider meeting each member of your team individually. In this way, you can identify individual achievements, as well as team successes. This is also a good opportunity to discuss what your team members might want to achieve in the following year. By identifying these early on, you can start to think about development opportunities like further training or increased responsibility.
Where your team has been successful, it’s a good idea to make a record of lessons learned. Ask yourself: what did they do to achieve that outcome? And, how could we repeat that success next year? Some of the answers may never apply again, but others can inform changes to the way your team operates. Reflect on these lessons throughout the review process and consider how they could be used next year to address some of the challenges that you face.
Even though you may appreciate that it’s been a wonderful year, it’s important to share that news with the wider organisation as well. If your team members are having a celebration, consider mentioning some of the highlights to have come out of your end of year review. If not, take some time to speak to your team at work. You could also email round a ‘Best of the Year’ list to place emphasis on some of your team’s biggest successes, or post a blog on your company’s website or intranet. Finally, if one member of your team has been particularly outstanding, consider highlighting their achievements with an award. After all, It’s a Wonderful Life wouldn’t be complete if an angel didn’t get their wings.