Feb. 5, 2019

Top tips for a productive annual review

Find out what managers and employees can do to ensure a successful end to the support staff performance cycle
The first annual review process using digital review documents for support staff is underway. Self- assessments should be completed by Feb. 28. University of Calgary photo

The first annual review process using digital review documents for support staff is underway.

University of Calgary

A productive annual review conversation can make a big difference in how we experience our work as individuals and as team members. According to Marcia Bulchholz, associate vice-president of Human Resources, annual reviews can help build trust between employees and managers, motivate collaboration and inspire personal growth.

“One-on-one conversations are valuable at any time of the year, but because annual review conversations are more structured and perhaps a bit more formal, they can have a greater impact on performance and satisfaction,” says Buchholz.

This will be the first time support staff reviews are completed online as a part of Connect to Perform, the University of Calgary’s renewed approach to performance management. The new digital process is more efficient and measurable, but the true value of Connect to Perform is in the conversations, and a little preparation goes a long way towards a meaningful review discussion. Here are Buchholz’s top tips for making your review conversations count this year.

Top three tips for support staff

1. Consult your calendar 
Without any special effort on your part, your calendar is probably populated with important information about your professional year. Scan your meeting topics from the past 12 months to remind yourself about your role on projects that are completed or underway.

2. Reflect on the best of times … and the worst of times 
What three experiences from the past year do you remember best? Capture positive experiences to illustrate your strengths, but don’t ignore the moments that stand out for being negative. Is there some knowledge or skill that could help you better handle a similar situation in the future? Plan to discuss related skill-building opportunities with your manager. 

3. Do more of what you like 
Before your annual review, consider what aspects of your job you would like to do more of next year — plan to talk to your manager about ways to incorporate even more of your favourite duties into your current role.

Top three tips for managers

1. Check your email and ask around
Some managers keep a file of emails to, from, and about each of their direct reports — even if you didn’t, a simple email search could bring up some useful reminders about what your team members accomplished last year. Broaden your perspective of your team’s contributions by talking to people who worked with them on larger initiatives or projects and asking questions about their experience.

2. Celebrate the successes … and the mistakes 
Conventional wisdom tells us we learn more from our failures than from our successes. As well as acknowledging the year’s highlights, be sure to discuss the low points too. Is there knowledge or a skill that would have helped an employee through a tough experience last year? Discuss related skill-building opportunities with them during your annual review conversation.

3. Avoid surprises
Connect to Perform is all about frequent, two-way dialogue throughout the year. Annual reviews are an opportunity to build on and summarize conversations you’ve already started. They are not an ideal time to bring up challenges or performance issues for the first time.

Get schooled: annual review instructions and training for managers and employees 

Support staff annual review timeline and instructions

Detailed instructions about the review process are listed at ucalgary.ca/connecttoperform.