Personal retrospective

March 17, 2006

We’re been going through the review process here recently. It’s been my first time as a reviewer rather than reviewee, so was wondering how to approach it. With my reviewee’s permission, I tried running it like a personal retrospective, with the following results.

Apparatus (Are you liking this GCSE approach to science?)

  1. All the review feedback from colleagues, sponsors, and reports for the reviewee. Allow 2-3 weeks for this, and start chasing up strongly a week before the review.
  2. 2 A2 sheets divided up as below
  3. A pen
  4. A reviewee

Mark off one the A2 sheets like this action sheet.

On the other sheet, draw a time line. On the left put the beginning of the review period. On the right put NOW. Mark off siginificant dates (months, years).


Hand the timeline and pen to the reviewee, and ask them to partition the line up into the projects they have worked on. Ask them to draw (or dictate) what they did on each project, what their accomplishments were, and what was good about that period. If they enjoyed or hated something write it in the appropriate section on the action sheet (e.g. Keep doing development work, Stop being only person on team, etc). Explore each accomplishment in more detail, or let it flow – up to you.

Once you’ve been through the auto-biography (allow 15-20 minutes for this), turn to the action sheet. Again, ask your colleague to add the data to the various boxes. After 10-15 minutes of this, you should have a pretty comprehensive view of how the reviewee sees themselves, their workplace, and the organisation.

Now for the fun part – open up the feedback emails, and start trawling through them. Where there are good things put them in the “Keep doing”. Where there are potentially negative issues, discuss the actions around how to prevent them again, and stick them in the start doing or More of. Personally, I try and avoid filling up “Less of” and “Stop doing” unless there are very serious issues.

This part usually takes about 30 minutes. When you’re done, open up the review document, and start entering everything you’ve done. The timeline contains achievements, the “Keep doing” contains strengths, the “More of” and “Start doing” contain a mix of immediate actions (some of which triggered by weaknesses).

Finally, spend 5 minutes giving your personal summary – and when you and your reviewee are happy, hit submit.

Anyway – this worked for me with the five or so reviews that I had to get through. YMMV.