Become an Annual Review Revolutionary

By Chad Broadus

Can we just admit one thing before we start? I mean, just
between you and me?
In most companies, the annual review is an exercise in corporate kabuki
You fill out a little form, your boss fills out a little form, you and
your boss discuss the little form, and hopefully you get a cost of living
increase at the end of the process.
Your boss then tosses the form into the dusty
recesses of the HR bin and never thinks about it again
ever. The next year,
you go through the same process all over again. 

Performance Review RevolutionIn the course of my
career, I’ve come across just one exception to this annual
At Whole Foods Market, they
t have "annual reviews," "performance
," any other etymological construction that gave the impression that you
were on trial.
It was called a "Job Dialog," and it was just
a dialog about your job. There was still
an annual discussion, but it was backed up by a quarterly check-in to keep the
dialog going.
And, it actually worked. If anything was slipping, you didnt have to wait a whole
year to figure it out and note it.  Corrective action could be taken much
If something was stuck in your craw, you didn’t
have to wait so long to get it off your chest. I believe the process led to better overall
relationships between team leaders and team members, and higher job

So why do you care about my halcyon days at Whole
Because you can get similar results by starting a guerrilla job dialog
process within the current framework of your company.


When your annual review is approaching, take some time
to ponder the little form you have to fill out.
As we see in the
annual review (
a.k.a, the State of the Union), perception is everything. For each item youre being measured on,
cite specific examples of how you met or exceeded the criteria
during the previous year. There are
probably many small tasks or events that
your boss doesnt remember. Be sure
to provide a bread
crumb trail to your awesomeness zone.


Beyond the areas covered on the standard review form,
make a bullet list of SMART
and positive
things you can accomplish in your circle of influence.
Dont overcommit, but make
them all a bit of a stretch.

Also think about problems and solutions within your sphere
of influence. 
Before the annual review, share these things with your boss as additional
items you
like to discuss.
This will show her that youre thinking holistically about the business and your place in its


After the review, shoot your boss an email every quarter
detailing progress on your SMART goals, and all of the ways you
re meeting the standard
annual review criteria:
a little mini version of
what was discussed
during your review. This will keep your accomplishment fresh in your managers mind throughout the

By subverting the tired old annual review
like this, youll actually be bringing about some positive change which, by the way, will
cast you in the light of the careful planner and doer
, the person whose name is always on the tips of management tongues when they need someone who
communicates well and gets things done.
That’s change that can have very nice salary
Good luck, rebels

Chad Broadus is a tech professional and writer living in the Pacific Northwest.