End-of-Year Reviews and Reporting Best Practices

End-of-Year Reviews and Reporting Best Practices

Alright. Well, welcome to another peers over Beers. I'm Chris Detzel, and

I'm Nicole Saunders.

Nicole, how are you doing?

I'm good, you know we're we're heading into Thanksgiving. We're starting to get towards the end of the year. It's interesting. It feels like that means some things that work are winding down. You know. I know we don't have any more community events the rest of the year. We're not recruiting user group leaders right now

on the flip side. I was talking to my operations manager yesterday, and this is the time of year where she is really busy, cause she's doing all the into the year wrap up some summaries and things. So it's a

it's a shifting landscape at work right now. But yeah, things are good looking forward to spend some time with family coming up.

Yeah, same yeah, into the year stuff is, you know, you've got to kind of accomplish some things like, what did you do last year, you know, or this last year, and what you accomplish. And I think that's kind of what we wanted to

talk about today. is, you know.

whenever you do all these things in in the year, it's always a good thing to kind of. Look back and say.

what did we accomplish, because if you don't look back you'll never know, or you'll never kind of

not just appreciate, which I do think is highly important.

But how do you kind of talk to the business about the things that your department in this case community accomplished. And did you know.

how do you guys do that? How do you think about that?

You know, I think there's a couple of different perspectives that I bring to it first is absolutely you want to just have that end of your report right thing that says, here's what we did. Here's the value we delivered for a couple of reasons. One. How can you do your planning for the next year and set your goals if you don't know what you did this year.

and so you gotta have those benchmarks. You say, you know, we got X many members this year, and we're gonna increase it by X next year. So that's one piece is you need to be able. We always talk about reporting into the business. You gotta have those numbers. They can go tell people what you did.

But the second, and I think, maybe even the more important reason that it is so good to do these look backs in those overviews, you know one just the process of writing down those numbers, and that reporting will help you get perspective.

But it is so easy to get in the weeds with the day to day. Stuff on your to do list and checking things off, and a really important skill set for most professionals to develop is that ability to zoom in and then zoom back out and take an objective look at something and say.

Gosh! I've been really focused on doing these tasks, but if I zoom out.

have I been doing the right work? Have I been prioritizing appropriately?

Has the landscape around me changed where I need to adjust what I'm doing? And that's why I've always been a fan of doing both quarterly look backs, and then also end of year reports, so that you have these periodic benchmarks when you, you know, stop and zoom out and look at what you're doing and adjust as needed.

The other thing is, if you didn't, that quarterly reporting, making those numbers come together at the end of your.

It's funny, because this week I was in San Francisco.

and we had kind of this mark. So II put into the marketing team. And so we had this big marketing kind of

we only have, like 1514 people on marketing. So it's not that big but you know, we all get together met.

And our goal was to create

the marketing plan on a page right? Like the plan on a page kinda is what funnels from the main company goals. And so we worked on that piece, and then for me. For the rest of this year I work now on the community and engagement plan on a page. So my stuff will funnel from

the marketing plan on a page. Does that make sense?

absolutely. Yeah, it's it's so important to be able to do that and to to know.

How were you supposed to align this year? Did you do that? And how do you need to think about it for next year?

So what I'll do is I'll definitely focus on that plan on the page. But probably before I do, which I've done some of it, but it was just kind of just throwing some stuff out there.

but then I'll I'll put together a presentation. One. So that I know all the things that we've accomplished. you know, throughout the year, and that we've done, and what worked what didn't work that kind of stuff

that that presentation like you said. I mean, it's not just going to the day to day. It's what did you accomplish at a higher level. There's there's a few things, in my opinion, is, you know, we did these things. Okay, yes, we had this many people that you know. What were my goals last year? Did I call, or this year? Did I accomplish those? And what does that look like? There's also telling this story right? Because what I'll do in January is is I'll get in front of the organization and talk about Community and Executive Council and some other engagement activities that we did

right. But then that funnels into my plan on a page for next year, we call it, if it's for us, if I 25,

and so I'll say, these are the act. We wanna do a lot of the same stuff, you know. Some of that won't change.

But you know, like now, I own the pot. That's. I'm I don't own the podcast but we came up with the podcast. But how does that reflect into the the ultimate goals? Right? It's not just hey, we got a podcast we wanna do the things. You know what I mean. There's also

getting speakers and all this other stuff. So I think that helps me kind of do it. One thing I have a question for you is.

I was on this call yesterday. And it was Hr. Is doing something. You know. They're building our leaders, like, you know, director. And above, and saying, Hey, look, you know.

And it's something that you mentioned that you do these quarterly reports and things like that to report out which II completely agree, one of the things that and and you have a staff. So I wanted to see how you kinda do this, not to completely get off. But I think it's somewhat relevant

since you have staff. How do you kind of look at.

kind of their reviews for the end of the year, do you? One? And and maybe do not in none of it, you tell me, but

what they were saying is quarterly. We should be pushing kind of that information in, and so the employees should never be surprised by anything you say at the end of the year, like, well, you didn't do this, and you didn't do this, and

and you did these things right. I mean, they should already know what they're doing. Well and not. But there, in my opinion, there's gonna be check, touch points check ins whatever

you know throughout the years, so that they know how they're doing it. How do you kinda see that? Because

you know, that's gotta be part of your end of the year. Type stuff, too. No.

yeah, absolutely. So, you know. Obviously, like, end of your reporting summaries. Really important key thing, right. We just talked about like, get around up those numbers. You got to show your value. You gotta align your goals

before I jump into the people management. And the one other thing I would add about

that end of your reporting is, it's also really important to have once you start getting into things like budget requests or needing to make business cases for things that you need the next year. I know that I've needed to look a lot at. Okay, what do we do this year?

What am I asking for for next year? And then how much does that increase? What I'm delivering right? If we did, X number of 1 million dollars of value delivering this year.

What does that look like if I get no more investment? What does that look like if I do get my budget request and actually showing leadership the numbers. And the reason I want to emphasize this is, I think, a lot of the time community professionals

like, Gosh, I just, I feel like I'm banging my head against the wall. I keep explaining my leadership. You know, this is such important relationship building and retention building. But a lot of the time, I think what leaders end up with is I know community is important. I know if I invest in it. I'll get better

customer stickiness and things like that.

But I don't really know the dollar value that I'm leaving on the table if I don't invest in it. And of course, right now there's some economic headwinds, and a lot of companies are looking for. Where can they prioritize and invest smartly? And where can they maybe hold off for a little while? And so I know that I've been making the case. The community is a great place to invest when times are tight because it's a smallish investment or something that can scale pretty significantly like the Roi on communities huge. But I've had to put that into dollars and cents and say, you know.

just gonna make up some numbers here. But it's like, if you give me $10,000 to invest in this.

I can 10 x that in value. But if you don't give me $10,000, everything's gonna stay flat. So would you like to make you know, 1 million dollars in revenue or 10 million dollars in revenue your call. When you put things in those terms it gets a lot easier for leadership to understand.

I'm glad you brought that around because pretty good at kinda going off. But no, it's it's a very good point. And

and you know, we're going through that as well as you know. Every department had to cut something right, you know, and you know it's it's always look. Community is in in comparison when when I look at other parts not just the business. But even marketing community is a very small line item.

and they'll start really cutting

more, and I'm like, No, no, here's what we've done. You know what I mean like, and so, you know, you can't be caught off guard because

they'll want to take your money and push it somewhere else where they think is more important. You know they they don't want to cut either, but if they do. The last thing you want to say is, you know, my small budget.

you know, to cut it even smaller. You know I'm not saying it won't ever happen, because, you know, you'll always have to go through that and A, and it's a painful exercise when they start saying, Well, I could take 10 grand off here, and 20 grand off that

I don't know. Here's what that is for, you know, and you've got to be specific, and and I like, kind of your idea as well.

We want to invest in this thing right here. And this is what it's gonna do and get us 10 x. And so it's a very, very good call out, and probably something we should

kind of think about at the high level at all times. You know. How are you always thinking that as community leaders.

because you will be cut if you don't show that at some point, you know, it's just not community necessarily, maybe. But

you know, do Budget, you know.

Well, and that's the thing is like, if you think about leadership, you know they're looking at it. They're saying, like. I know that for every salesperson I have, we generate X dollars of revenue, and I know that for every webinar we host

we get this much pipeline attribution. You need to be able to show them that for community to. And it's not easy. But every community professional should be learning to be an expert in data and should be thinking about anytime. You launch an initiative. How are you gonna measure it, and how you're gonna put on it and show the value of it.

because you're going to need it down the road.

But let's get back to your question that you raised around

end of year. And people management. Yeah, so I'm definitely in agreement with what you were saying that

ideally, you're talking to your team all the time, and you're giving them feedback, and you're doing quarterly reviews

so that they're not surprised by something right. You should never walk into a performance review and have something to be like. Oh, by the way, here's something you're really bad at.

If your manager, yeah, like, you need to make sure you're communicating more consistently on that kind of thing.

Of course, end of year is also the time when a lot of companies start looking at promotions for the following year, and merit increases, and all of those sorts of things. So I think it is really important to reflect on. Hey, what have you done as an individual this year? And

I generally find that a lot of community professionals in particular, are very humble, very modest. We tend to like to put the spotlight on our community members and what they're doing. I mean, you know, it's that's part of what makes the community work. Well, it's not about my personal accomplishment. It's about what the members accomplish.

but it is still important for you. Look back at what you've achieved.

and it's very hard to do that. If you don't kind of keep a running record. I don't know about you. I actually keep a document where anytime I have something I consider big success. I throw a bullet point in there, so that by the end of the year I have a little list

of all of the things that I feel like I've accomplished that year, and that really helps me when I go to my end of your manager. Hey? Here's what I did. Here's how I've grown. Here's what I've learned.

and be able to have that reflectiveness, and it's just like looking back at your you know the work that the team has done, or that the program has done, or that you've achieved as a group to look at your individual pieces as well, and say, Hey, was I focus on the right things as I prioritizing things? Am I seeing a pattern of place? There's something I need to work on. And so, you know, I think the end of the year is a great time to reflect on that, because you can kind of absorb it.

go home for the holiday, break.

process it, and then hit the New Year with some new

goals and objectives and new energy behind. How you're going to grow that year

I love the idea of, you know. And and I was thinking about this, too, and I'm glad you brought it up.

Think we're on the same page. All this stuff which is crazy is whenever you you're building that end of the year view. It's also for yourself, right? It's not just. Yes, you can copy and paste this. What I've done. You know that kind of stuff and and re remind your manager, or if they don't know, then they know now, and you give them kind of some

ways to how do they react to it? And things like that? Do they believe it? Do they not believe it, you know, but the other pieces is kind of your own personal branding. How do you remember all the stuff that you've done every year? If you don't write that down, you know what I mean, like, you know later on down the road, you know, you might wanna do your own podcast or do your own blogging, or, you know, try to get another job or whatever. Right. So how do you kind of

keep a running tally of all your successes? Look, you check it. Go to to Job, interview all the things. I've been successful, you know what I mean, but but you can at least points. You know, some of that stuff out, and you can remember, you know. That's why I like to do some of this stuff is like I don't remember. Well, and then, you know, I go back and read something that I blogged about, or that I had a podcast oh, yeah.

forget about that. I don't know.

I remember asking a question that was a really good question come up with that. But you know this is an example of where it is important to go back and say, Hey, what did I do? And not just look at the big things

right? It's not always just about watching the program. It's not always just about hitting a milestone. Sometimes it's.

Hey, I want to do

optimize this process. I wanted to sure up this thing, or I wanted to learn this new skill and implement it somewhere.

Those are big wins, or Hey, II helps this other team to be really successful with their goal.

But they.

you know, we've talked about that, as you know, working across

cross functionally right. And you know, I continue to hear and see. You know. On my daily

in my daily life business. Whatever is you have to work cross, functional, and you have to figure out how your goals relate to others. And then you've gotta be able to, you know. Talk about. And it's a good good thought cause I'm gonna push that into my yearly thing is how we've worked cross functionally.

because if you don't and you just focus in here. Here's the opportunity with community professionals and billing your plan on a page or building your, you know. You know, if your goals are just specific to your department. You know you, it's a problem, but

it's it's it's also hard, because

your boss wants you to accomplish the things within their plan on the page and the mark. You know what I mean like. So you have to

show the value of

well, I'm working with the product team for product adoption. And this is how I'm working with the Csm team on, you know, expansion. And this is how I'm working with the marketing team on net new expansion potentially. Or you know, whatever it is.

you know, on these things. And this is the impact that it's brought. If you're not doing that

that's gonna be hard, you know, and and everybody wants to say they work cross functionally. But

you know, sometimes it's hard, even in at your at at the high level when your boss is only focused on that new stuff. And yeah, they care about product option. But they're on this. But community touches all aspects, and

we have to communicate to the

to our boss and say, Hey, look! Yes, I wanna be a part of this team. I am part of this team. And I, we doing these things, but

especially when community is a team of one or one and a half, or whatever it's a little harder to

say, look, community isn't just this one functional piece. You know what I mean, and I think you have to

be able to tell that story.

I'm not. I'm just sure if I'm getting off. But you know II do think that piece is important. So

it definitely is, and you know II will ring the cross functional bell, come home, as we like to say in Wisconsin.

it is. It is such an important thing to be able to articulate that. And you know, to that end, as we're talking about data as we're talking about

interview summaries for people

again, you gotta be able to report on, how did we contribute? What was our value? Add here? End of viewers also. Great time. We're just talking about doing interview reviews for team members

go write up feedback for your peers and your colleagues, and they only have worked with you haven't done that for already. It's great time of year to take a few minutes. Reflect on what other people have done well, and give them some of that feedback as well.

and and share that. And you know, managers always appreciate it. I know II often think about you know what I appreciate as a manager. I love it. When other people come to me and tell me what my team is doing well.

or if there's something that somebody needs to work on a little bit, and so I try to make sure that II pay that forward and do that for other people actively as well. And I think that's a really key thing. It's just, you know it's the giving time of year. It's good to go. Well, organizations ha! Even have kind of this.

We have this thing called Bonus Lee, and you know, it's a program or software that allows you to give feedback to your colleagues. Now, they only give us a certain number of points, you know, like. Here's 50 points to give to your colleagues, you know.

a month or something like that. But I do think that that's a good way one to publicly recognize somebody, right, you know, within the organization to to let them know how well they're doing. Really appreciate it, you know. Maybe even a note directly slack message or get on the phone or whatever to tell. II absolutely agree, I mean, but if it wasn't for the organization that you know, the people in the organization, you know, at real.

I would not be able to do my job, you know, like people answering questions, people doing webinars, people help them. You know what I mean. Like it. Just it's my job relies on them. You know what I mean, you know. And so

definitely, definitely, a huge opportunity. There, you know.

So what other aspects of end of year things I would love to talk about is what we do for our communities at the end of the year, you know we talked about. How do you sit down and reflect on your year? How do you work with your people internally.

I know for us we do a couple of things. We love having sort of end of the year town halls with our super users, our user group leaders, our brand advocates

again to talk about. Hey, here's everything we did this year, but really bring them into that story as we've rounded up those numbers and talked about the value we've delivered the business.

It's also great to share that out with those end users that were part of that, and thank them for those contributions, you know, for example, say. you know, our community

deflected again made up numbers. But let's say 100,000 tickets this year, and the only reason we could do that is because you, the members, were there, and you were generous with sharing your knowledge, and you've helped each other out, and you were active in that space. We can't thank you enough.

So I love doing this sort of end of your recaps, making really feel really good about the things that they've contributed. We also often will send a small end of your thank you, Gift. Some kind of swag with your coffee mug, or something like that, just a little thing to share that token of appreciation.

we've also toyed with sometimes, instead of doing an end of year thing doing a beginning of your kickoff where we again recap those numbers, and then kind of give a sneak peek to the next year. So depends how busy you are, and you know when your company maybe has sales kick off, or something like that, what else is going on?

But I definitely recommend thinking about? How can you bring your community members into that

end of your conversation? How can you help them understand the value that they've created for one another, and how can you make them feel appreciated for everything that they wanted?

You know

I'll be honest. II wasn't II had nothing

yeah, like to to to be honest like I mean. you know, we'll all say thanks everyone, for coming and doing all that kind of stuff. But I you know I love that, as you know. Maybe you do like this.

I don't know you said a recap. But is it a written recap, or is it a a live webinar to where you kind of think different members. Here's some of the data that you know. I'd love being very transparent with your community members and

letting them know what they've helped. Do you know? And and and say, Hey, these are the things that we accomplish, things that we've done really appreciate. You know, you guys come to the community answering quote, I love that.

Yeah, yeah, we've done webinar style like gatherings.

some years we've actually like gotten together and put together like a

game or a quiz, or some kind of social activity for everybody. When you publish the infographic that stats about the community sometimes like the top tips from the community for the year. Those are all these great pieces of content that, as you're doing that end of your review. You can just

pull them out, you know, make them look nice with a little bit of design work and and promote them. And really.

I think it is so important to help your users understand

their value and make them feel good about being there, because, honestly, communities only thrive when you've got members who are really engaged and really dedicated to helping each other.

And so you have to make sure that they not only get recognized for that with with badges and your typical gamification and recognition programs, but also just a really hurtful thank you and show them how significant their impacts are because any one of them probably doesn't realize how it all adds up, and that they're part of this bigger thing. And

it's part of what attracts people to communities. They want to be part of something

I love that. Yeah, I know it's I've done the infographics, and usually I do the infographic at the end of the community year like whenever it was born, you know, here's year one year, 2 year, 3 kind of with the but.

you know, like the idea of. Well, you know. What did you accomplish from January to to December? And this is what you have done. And it's just for the community, right like it doesn't have to be

for anybody else. Now you might push that into your presentation that you do at the end of the year, or push into your this what we've accomplished, I mean, that's just another beautiful thing, love, that

anything else that you can think of.

You know. I mean, we could probably do individual episodes in each of these things. But to recap the topics that we've covered are, you know, thinking about your end of your reporting, and how quarterly reports can help you build towards that?

The value of zooming out and reviewing what you've done, and determining was that the best thing? And how can I, just next year doing your end of your personnel conversations, performance conversations, sharing feedback with peers.

and then thinking about your community, too, and how you're sharing both of those things with them. What are the community? Do? Well, what are we hoping for next year? Where did you contribute value and make sure you're thinking everybody.

So I think that's that's good. That's a good end of your recap to start with.

Yeah. And so everyone go do your end of the year. Recap for your communities. But thank you. Everyone for tuning into another peers over Beers. I'm Chris, that's all. And

I'm Nicole Saunders.

Thanks, Nicole.

thank you.

Creators and Guests

Chris Detzel
Chris Detzel
Chris is a versatile Digital Community Strategist with several years of experience. He has owned community vision, strategy, and execution. He is responsible for leading the development and execution of community engagement programs, creating compelling content for customer communities and acts as the voice of the customer. He believes that data should drive decisions as it is the key element of any long-term successful strategy.
Nicole Saunders
Nicole Saunders
As Director of Community at Zendesk, she oversee the Community Team (part of the Global Digital Experiences team), set strategy, define policy and governance, develop and launch new community products, and engage our user community. Our programs include: an online community, virtual events, user groups, community champions, customer advocacy, and an annual global virtual community summit.