How to do your annual career review, on the beach


Give yourself at least one hour’s thinking time away from distractions:

Step 1 Self-score

On a scale of 0-10, where ten is “feeling very fulfilled on average”, and zero is “feeling very unfulfilled” on average how would you score your happiness in your current role?

If you score 7+, you’re doing well. Less than that and you need to take stock and consider your options. You have seven.

Step 2 Review your options

You have one staying option and six leaving options:

  • Option One: Stay where you are and make it better.
  • Option Two: Leave and start a business, consultancy or build a NED portfolio.
  • Option Three: Leave and join a startup.
  • Option Four: Leave and join a growth business.
  • Option Five: Leave and join a mature business.
  • Option Six: Leave and downshift, entirely, if you can afford it.
  • Option Seven: Leave and work with Family assets/businesses/relationships not worked with so far.

If you’re currently looking for a job, you have a job.

Step 3 Decide on one option and stick with it, for another year.

If your self-score is less than 7 and you choose Option One or feel you are stuck for the moment with Option One, for whatever reason, and wish to improve your fulfilment score, then I recommend you review your Relationship Grid.

Your Relationship Grid

Your chances of fulfilment are higher if you manage your relationships more proactively so that you can spot when “Green” (good) relationships are turning to “Amber” (in trouble) or “Red” (toxic).

I have developed a simple tool, called The Relationship Grid, to track relationships using this RAG method:

  • On a simple spreadsheet making each cell a large text box, list each of your relationships by name in the first column starting with “the business”, then yourself, then your Family with a line for each member, then your boss if you have one, then peers, then people you lead, then clients, then stakeholders etc.
  • Head the second column your purpose, strategy, and behaviour plan (PSB) and type in a summary PSB for each relationship.
  • Head the third and fourth columns with Best Outcome and Worst Outcome for each relationship over the year.
  • Head the fifth column “RAG”. Regularly rate each relationship Red, Green or Amber and decide what do about each.

If you have a “Red” relationship today and you are or have to stick with Option One, then you must find a way of reconciling that relationship, or you must try to leave. Life’s too short.

The other six options are self-explanatory. What’s important is that you take responsibility for your situation. If you can’t change things, then start planning to move. If you don’t know what you want then your strategy is to find a strategy. Whatever you do, don’t drift.

Ciarán Fenton

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