Skip to content

What are the key elements of a great personal review?

What are the key elements of a great personal review?

For those who know Scrum, there will be no surprises with this one.

Scrum is built on the concept of inspect and adapt, affording you the opportunity to be Agile and responsive.

Some people do quarterly reviews, but I prefer to do monthly or even bi-monthly personal reviews.

It affords me the opportunity to inspect what I intended to do versus what I actually achieved. It helps me identify the reasons for those differences and to work out a plan of action to deal with those impediments to personal progress.

Sometimes, the goal posts were simply just too far, and I had set unrealistic goals for the period I am reviewing. At other times, it’s circumstantial, like Covid and global lockdowns impacting what can realistically be achieved in those periods.

The key to these reviews is to be honest.

I set out to achieve X and what I achieved was Y. The reasons for me not achieving those goals and objectives are Z. What could I have done differently to achieve the outcomes I was pursuing?

It’s important to invest time thinking about why you wanted to achieve those objectives and goals in the first place and how it fits into the bigger picture of your annual goals and objectives.

You want to be clear on your ‘why’.

Did you chase things that were unimportant and unnecessary? Are the reasons you set out to pursue a goal still important and is it still going to have the kind of impact on your life that you imagined it would?

We also want to celebrate the wins and ask ourselves if achieving these goals has had the positive impact on our larger goals and objectives that we had anticipated when we were planning?

Did the return on your investment justify the time, money and effort required to achieve that goal or objective?

So, our personal review offers us the opportunity to reflect on all of these elements and think about what we are going to do next time we come across an impediment. Think about what we are aiming for in the future and whether that is still as important to us as when we first set out to achieve those goals and objectives.

After reflection comes the opportunity to think about what we want to achieve in the next cycle, be that a year, a quarter, or a month.

A great personal review explores where we’ve been, how we have gotten to where we are today and where it is that we are headed for the future.

It gives us an opportunity to reflect on what has worked well for us and to deploy those tools and techniques to achieve our future goals, objectives and aspirations. We’re constantly learning from what we have done and using those lessons to inform future actions.


I’m a big believer in goal setting. In fact, I believe I have achieved what I have today because I have always been clear on what I want to achieve and have deliberately set out to achieve those goals and objectives in a structured, positive manner.

Because I work through personal reviews and invest a great deal of time in reflection, I am able to correct course as soon as it makes sense to do so, and I am able to prioritise the highest value goals and objectives real-time.

Working in this way allows me to discard the things that are no longer of value to me and focus exclusively on the highest value, highest priority goals and objectives.

Subconsciously, my brain evaluates opportunities and threats and works to discovering creative solutions that will allow me to achieve my goals.

In short, my brain is aware that I have a goal and works on my behalf to achieving that goal.

So, what I would recommend is that you find your cadence. I prefer monthly reviews, but you could also look at quarterly reviews, depending on what best serves you.

Once you’ve established your cadence, structure time to reflect on where you have come from, where you are now and where you are going next.

Take time to evaluate what has happened over the period of review and define the reasons why what you intended to achieve has not been achieved or even better, reflect on the reasons why it has been achieved.

You’re attempting to identify how you can become a better person.

That’s the only true measure of a great personal review.

Are you a better person today than you were yesterday, last month or last quarter?

If so, great, persist with your goals and objectives. If not, reflect on the reasons and identify a plan of action that is going to empower you to overcome the obstacles and impediments you face.

If you like how Scrum addresses personal development and want to become a Scrum Master, visit our Certified Scrum Master course page.

If you are a scrum master and want to upskill, visit our Advanced Certified Scrum Master course page.

If you have several years’ experience as a Scrum Master and want to validate your skills as a professional, visit our Certified Scrum Professional Scrum Master course page.

If you like the idea of mentored and coach-driven skills development, visit our Agile Coach Academy.

If you would like to explore how coaching can make you a better Agile practitioner, visit our on-demand Introduction to Coaching course page.