3 Action Steps After A Bad End Of Year Staff Review

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You’ve just walked out of a bad end of year staff review. Maybe you saw this coming. Perhaps this past year contained failures and mishaps that kept snowballing to this point. The meeting was filled with quantitative analysis of your performance that did not measure up to the goals that were established at the beginning of the year. Or maybe this bad review was more qualitative than quantitative, and the critiques of past behaviors or attitudes were a surprise to you. Either way, change is required, and there are a few steps that can be helpful in that process of reflection and implementation of change.

I will not be obtuse enough to offer you blanket advice on how to respond to shame, pain, or failure. This post will not be filled with answers and remedies, but hopefully some of these words can serve as corner pieces as you start to put your puzzle together for the next year.

Step 1: Look Back. 

Take the feedback you received in your staff review and do your own end of year review. Write out the story of when and where the train started to get off the track. Work backwards from the review. Taking this feedback back to the source will allow you to identify the fundamental and foundational issues at play, giving you the tools to make a systematic change in the way you move forward from this review.

For example, was the critique associated with a decline in engagement or attendance for your ministry? Go back and look at how you track those numbers. When did the decline start? What was happening throughout the ministry at that time? What was happening in your life at that time?

Take a perspective of ownership instead of blame in your reflection process.  Tweet: Take a perspective of ownership instead of blame in your reflection process.
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If you are trapped in shame or pain that causes you to point to blame, then I encourage you to bring someone into this reflection process with you. Make it a conversational process. This can be a great time to look to a mentor for help. Bring in a perspective from someone that understands your current situation and the road ahead.

It is easy to take constructive feedback negatively and filter all of your reflection through that lens of negativity. Don’t be too hard on yourself; take a balanced approach in your reflection. Don’t just look at the failures, but also look at the successes. I recommend writing this information down. It is helpful to spend time in reflective thought, but recollection can be tough if you don’t record your discoveries and successes as well.

Personality tests can also be helpful tools in learning about your strengths and weaknesses. Take the results and reflect on how they are verified or contradicted through your past experiences.

Step 2: Look Forward.

Now that you have written out and talked through the story from the past year, it’s time to look ahead to the new year with an informed perspective. Look to your systematic understanding of the past year to make fundamental changes in attitude, perspective, and approach. Look at specific moments of failure to learn more about how you responded in various scenarios. Failures can be great benchmarks for us to learn that we are not going to be great at everything, and they help us hone in on our strengths. This is not an excuse to avoid any task that is outside of your comfort zone, but an opportunity to develop systems and support around your weaknesses.

Your past failures can be assets instead of liabilities. Tweet: Your past failures can be assets instead of liabilities.
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If you stop your reflection at the point of indentifying failures, then those failures will remain liabilities. But if you take those moments of failure as opportunities to learn and grow, then those moments become your greatest asset when looking forward. Develop goals and vision for your next year with your past as a tool, not just a time to be put behind you.

Step 3: Take Action.

This step takes little explanation, but it is rooted in the application of courage. You’ve planned your work, now it’s time to work your plan. Take the reflection, the conversations, and the lessons learned, and take action. Encouragement fuels courage, and I hope these words encourage you.

“It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.

The impeded stream is the one that sings.” - The Real Work by Wendell Berry

How can you learn from last year's successes and failures? 

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