My annual review for 22-23

I recently had my annual review, which gave me a chance to reflect on the year gone by, so I trawled through my posts and caught up with my line manager on my work this year and also the developments in the role.

Feedback and reflection

Generally things have gone well, but there's still lots of potential to further embed learning into the core products of the business. We've previously tested new products which we've called Learning Pathways, where people are taken on a learning journey through a variety of resources. Our website held us back a bit, but we've just shifted from Umbraco 7 to Umbraco 10, which gives us the opportunity to further develop these resources. These will require a different way of working, with increased collaboration across different departments. It will be interesting to see what procedural and cultural shifts will be required.

As an organisation we're at an interesting point in our development – we've outgrown some of our simple processes, which don't help us keep each other accountable. I've been pushing back against some things that increase bureaucracy, but I've struggled to understand when it's useful to be the grit in the oyster and when I should let things go. There are occasions when it feels like it’s expected that I will disagree, and that doesn't feel like a helpful space to be in.

What do I want to be saying at my next annual review?

This time next year I hope to be saying that it both looks and feels like I am a supportive member of our middle manager group, and that our resources are better designed to implement and facilitate change.


I'm now managing our UX Officer. We're currently prototyping an approach to UX that is based on our internal experience of hybrid working. We will use the learning from that work to look at how we can bring UX into the development of wider work streams.

I have some knowledge around UX, but I'm by no means an expert. The limitations in my knowledge can limit the support that I’m able to offer, but as a counterpoint, I'm able to give a good steer around the nature of our work and resources, as well as knowledge around how our partners work.

I'm also really interested in testing how we can change the way that our multimedia resources feel. We're looking at how we can better design them to make it easier for people to emotionally connect with them and put the learning into practice, as per the Elephant and the Rider analogy.

What do I want to be saying at my next annual review?

This time next year I hope to be saying that the relational nature of our resources makes it easier for people to apply them in practice. I also want to increase my knowledge around UX so that I can better support and challenge my colleague.

Growth and Development

I've learnt so much from being on Twitter over the years, but X is no longer a helpful space. Helen Lewis' description of it as “bobbing for apples in a bowl full of amateur race scientists” feels about right to me. Moving away from X means that I need to develop new online networks. Whilst imperfect, the Fediverse seems like a good place to do that.

What do I want to be saying at my next annual review?

I hope to develop my learning from new sources and networks over the coming year.


This year hasn't been super easy as I've overloaded myself a bit.

I'm getting to grips with the rhythm of a four day working week. Basically, Tuesday is hectic, and I lighten my load as the week progresses until I have the time and space to crack on on Friday. I learnt a tonne from Happy on productivity, and I want to more consistently put some of those tools into practice.

Cycling has been my go to activity to take a break and look after myself both mentally and physically. When I started cycling a decade ago, I didn't know how much work bike maintenance would be. I've learnt a tonne from it, but building up a gravel bike has taken a lot of effort. Annoyingly, the forks on my fixed gear bike broke as I started working on my gravel bike. Getting both bikes on the road has been a real effort when I really could have done with some spare time. The early morning bike rides have been incredible though, and exploring back home on my gravel bike made it all worthwhile this summer.

A photo from the top of a hill over a green valley, taken whilst exploring Wales on my gravel bike

My blogging has taken a bit of a hit with the squeeze on my spare time. I've not been as productive as I would like, but I also want to be generous with myself. I don't feel like any of my time has been wasted, and I hope to get back on it during the last part of the year.

What do I want to be saying at my next annual review?

That I'm not starting my day with emails on Wednesday-Friday, having identified the key tasks for me to focus on the day before.

With the winter nights bearing in, it's important that I hold my “no meetings over lunchtime” boundaries so that I can get out for exercise when I might not otherwise be able to.

As ever, it will be interesting to reflect on this post at the end of this year and see what I've put into practice and what I haven't. Something to reflect on at next year's annual review too!

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