• Ann-Marie Brennand

How to have a great End-of-Year Review

Updated: Dec 14, 2020


Every 12 months we come to that time when we need to have our end-of-year review. Having spoken to fellow PAs, I found some reassurance that I am not alone in feeling anxious about the process. I’ve never enjoyed them as I feel I am forced to brag about myself and my accomplishments, which doesn’t come easily to me, and I think this is even harder when you are in a support role. These are important events in our career calendars which impact our future opportunities, personal branding, career progression, bonus, salaries and promotions. So, we need to get better at these conversations.


Lead the conversation

You may be used to your Executive taking the lead in meetings, however, in this scenario you will need to be the leader. As their PA/EA, you are the hardest person for your Executive to carry out a performance review with because they will never fully understand the intricacy of your role. Very often you will solve problems before they get to your Executive’s inbox and they will be unaware of how time you spend forward planning their schedule and troubleshooting when you identify bottle necks. Being the A-Star assistant that you are, you will be doing all of this behind the scenes. Your Executive may have a seamless schedule for the next month, but they will have no idea what has gone on to create this, so be kind to your Executive and don’t feel annoyed if they do not know everything that you do. It will be your job to take the lead in your appraisal and explain the impact of your role.


Unless new in role, you will most likely know your Executive pretty well so lean into this knowledge. Will they prefer to read over your end of year documentation in advance or would they prefer to just talk it over? Are there key areas that you know will be important to them; if so make them stand out. Do they prefer bullet points rather than paragraphs? Format the document and the conversation to suit how your Executive likes to absorb information.


The detail vs The Impact

It is quite easy to get caught up in the detail of the past year and sometimes this can seem menial, so try to focus on the bigger picture and the outcome of your contribution. It will also be really impactful if you can link these to your Executive’s objectives and the company’s mission. If your Executive has achieved all of their objectives, it is likely that you have played a part in their success too.


Here are a couple of examples of how you can focus on the impact you’ve made rather than just the detail.


The detail: I set up meetings and invitations for the recruitment of COO. I emailed the relevant information to the interviewers.


The Impact: I coordinated a seamless recruitment process for the COO role - the most high-profile recruit of the year. Given the seniority of the role it was vital that all the candidates involved had positive recruitment process giving a good first impression of our company.

I ensured that all the interviewers had the candidates CV’s, job description and interview questions in advance, giving them ample time to prepare.


The detail: I sent diary invitations for Project X team meetings.


The Impact: I contributed towards to successful launch of Project X by ensuring the team had time set aside to meet each fortnight to collaborate on the project. I understood the project timings and increased the frequency of meetings as we drew closer to ‘Go Live’ date.

The regular team meetings contributed to keeping the team on track and the project launching on time.

I was fully aware that Project X was high profile within the organisation, so I ensured that the team leader kept you (the Executive) up to date with regular updates.

I ensured that the department was kept up to date by adding the project progress to the department meeting agenda.

I set up a ‘Go Live’ team celebration and encouraged you to recognise and congratulate the team as this will have a positive impact on team engagement and your personal branding within the department.


Do not undersell what you do or the value that you bring to your Executive and team / department. Think about what would happen if you were not there to arrange meetings, book lunches, answer IT questions, create more efficient processes, celebrate team members birthdays? It would likely result in utter chaos, so do not undersell the impact that you have.


Here are few areas to think and reflect on in advance of your end-of-year review meeting:


  • Not just WHAT, but HOW. Think about how you have made your contribution, if you have done this through researching and implementing a new system or learning a new skill then shout about it. Perhaps you have had to develop relationships with employees who you have previously had very little to do with. Have you demonstrated the companies values or been a role model to your peers? If so, then be proud of it.

  • Have you been on a course, what did you learn from it and how has it enhanced your abilities to thrive in your role?

  • No one is perfect, so what are the areas that you wish to improve? What would you do differently to improve if you could do it again? Are there any courses that you would like to go on next year to further develop?

  • Where do you want to go next? What new projects do you want to be part of and how will your skills contribute to it? Alternatively, how will exposure to a new project enhance your skills?

  • Listen to the feedback your Executive and peers gives you. You are constantly learning so taking on feedback will helps you grow and develop further.


Time to sell what you do.

As uncomfortable as it may be, you need go into your appraisal ready to shout about all of your accomplishments. As previously mentioned, your Executive doesn’t know the half of what you do so you need to be prepared to talk through your achievements and contributions. So, plan and practice what you want to say. If you have a trusted co-worker, why not practice with them how you want to position your accomplishments. If you are feeling nervous about your meeting, then read my blog Confidence in Difficult Conversations and hopefully you will pick up some ideas there to feel calm and confident.


Good luck with your end-of-year reviews. Do drop me a message on LinkedIn if this has been helpful and let me know how your end-of-year reviews have gone.


With many thanks to Denise Browne, a fellow PA who I enjoy working closely with and have shared conversations with about end of year reviews and objective setting. Thank you for your time Denise.

Take a look at the The Assistant Room where my fellow Ambassadors have shared their top tips for end of year reviews.

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