The Year in Review Done Right!

The Year in Review Done Right!

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A year in review is due at the end of each year. The Pandemic has postponed everything again, the West is no longer in Afghanistan, and we have a newly elected government in Germany after 16 years of Angela Merkel – it hasn’t been dull, has it?

Why are we looking back? What’s the point of a year in review anyway?

And most importantly, why should we look back?

The end of the year is a perfect time to talk to your co-workers about your successes. It’s the ideal prelude to kick off the next year. 

An end-of-year message helps you strengthen everyone’s sense of belonging and build your narrative for the year ahead.

Doing a year-in-review with co-workers in a joint conversation is great, of course, but a well-crafted email message can also work, especially if you relax your “boss voice” a bit and speak from the heart.

Sincerity is important (do I really need to mention that anymore?). Don’t do it if you see an obligation in it. They will notice that. Then your shot will backfire.

Here are a few tips I’ve used in my attempts to look at the past: 

  1. Start with “Thank you.”

Whatever the format, give thanks first. A thank you note can mean a lot to the people who work for you throughout the year.

  1. Be proud of the success.

Did the team have a good year? This is the part where you can indulge your tendency for numbers, data and facts. Point out where it was really good (and don’t mess it up with facts about the failures, which of course, there were).  Talk about a project or initiative that involved many of your co-workers.

This strengthens your team. Your co-workers want to know that they contribute to a successful team no matter what position they hold. Now is the perfect time to tell them that!

  1. Calmly address what didn’t go so well in your year in review.

If your team went through some tough times last year, you could mention that too.

Remember, you only sound authentic when you acknowledge that a particular strategy didn’t produce the results you were hoping for—I usually switch my pronouns from “we” to “I” here.

Now you can use this opportunity to explain to the team what will be different next year.

  1. Be sure to look ahead

Talk about the opportunities that may arise next year. You should inspire your team with a positive attitude and encourage them to believe that anything is possible (You’ll have plenty of time later to talk about obstacles or challenges).

  1. Set the focus right

I often hear that you should relax, but always be ready for the customer—even over the holidays.

Don’t make those comments. Your co-workers know what to do. Don’t annoy them with it.

Make sure everyone understands that it’s OK to take a breather during the holidays. Over the holidays, family and friends come first. Encourage your team to enjoy the holidays without overthinking about work. 

  1. Wish everyone a happy new year in the year in review.

Don’t forget to simply wish your team a Happy New Year. Thank everyone again and remind them how much you appreciate their contribution to your success.


About the coach​

Kai Boyd has been a leader, trainer and facilitator since 1989. He supports leaders and their teams to work together effectively, trustfully and with ease. This involves each and everyone – in their respective roles and as people. Tailor-made formats and genuine attention enable potential to unfold and synergies to emerge.

The graduate industrial engineer, managing director and former management consultant knows the requirements of his clients from many perspectives. He works systemically, strength- and solution-oriented. Leading international teams as well as work and academic programs in the USA and the UK enable him to always contribute the international perspective.

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