Church Culture

Develop.Me: Understanding the Annual Review Phases

Growth doesn’t happen in a vacuum—it is the product of tending, nurturing, and guidance. Since personal development is such an important part of the culture here at Life.Church, we're intentional about creating conversations to facilitate it.

We created a web-based tool called Develop.Me to guide our staff development conversations. It allows team members to set goals and meet with their leaders throughout the year to track progress. Though staff development is ongoing, we have an annual review that serves as a launchpad for the next year's growth.

Sample Annual Review Timeline

Review Process Timeline

Here's an outline of the three phases of this annual review. Ours happens at the beginning of each year, but yours could happen when it works best for you.

Self Review

In the first phase, a team member reflects on their growth over the past year and rates their success in Develop.Me. Then, they set up a meeting with their team leader to review their goals and progress. Generally, the team member sets up this meeting; but, the team leader could initiate this meeting if they wished.

The team leader's responsibility during this meeting is to simply listen. This isn't the time to conduct the actual review or provide feedback. Just listen to the progress and concerns your team member brings to you. These phases help create a safe process for team members and leaders to grow, so being patient during this phase and not jumping the gun with feedback is critical to creating this safety.

Leader Review

Next is the leader review. During this phase, the team leader and the dotted-line leader (if applicable) conduct a formal performance review and rating of the team member.

One caveat here: if there is a dotted-line leader involved, the team leader and the dotted-line leader should iron out any differences or questions about the team member's performance before they complete their reviews.

Between the Leader Review and the Response Phase, we block off a period for our Human Resources team to make sure everyone's reviews are locked in and no one has fallen through the cracks.

Response Phase

The final phase brings the team leader and team member together again for one last meeting. In this conversation, they discuss the leader's constructive feedback and begin creating the development plan for the upcoming year.

This final phase sets up the goals for the new year. The team member inputs their new goals into Develop.Me, and the team leader approves them.

What we've learned:

Your review process may look a little different than ours; spend longer on some parts or less time on others. Have more team leader/member meetings or fewer. The goal of this review cycle is to track progress, build trusting relationships, and promote growth. We use Develop.Me to help us do that—see if it works for your ministry here, or you can use some of these ideas to create a review plan just for your team. Wherever you land, make sure you're proactive about the health and growth of your team. It takes energy to grow, but it yields a staff that's even more equipped to reach people for Christ.

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