Margien Matthews

Measure progress by taking stock of important personal and team achievements

Measure progress

Track your improvement with our six quick ways for taking stock of achievements. And celebrate those successes.

Stock take


At the time of writing this, we’re coming to the end of another year. 


And what a year it’s been! 

Hands up if last year this time you were optimistic that we were seeing the tail end of the pandemic and that life would be back to normal, soon. 

Which just goes to show that the only certainty is, well, less certainty. 

Still, there is reason to celebrate.  We’ve survived another year of pandemic stress and are getting good at doing just about everything online. 

We’re also building strong resilience muscles!  And we now know that we’ll never go back to doing things the way we used to.

Question is, do you feel that you’re moving forward? Or does the treadmill you’re running on feel much the same as last year?

Time for a stocktake

As we get to the end of this calendar year, it’s time for a stocktake. Take time out and evaluate the good, the bad and the ugly of the past 11 months.

Because if we don’t take stock, how will we know if we’re getting ahead or staying in the same place? And how balanced is your perspective?

That’s why I’m a great advocate for doing a personal review on an annual basis.  It doesn’t need to be at the end of the year. It can be at any time during the year that you find useful. 

It’s a great tool to use on yourself to track your progress. It’s also useful to apply it to your workgroup – the team of people you spend the most time with at work and who are most critical for your success.

What does a 'personal' stocktake look like?

A stocktake, or audit, is when we examine various factors that represent achievement or success to us. These factors are different from person to person. However, the six factors we’re going to examine below give a reasonably holistic view of our progress over the past year.

BSE Personal stocktake

1.  Your career

How satisfied are you with your career progress over the past year? Did you set yourself any specific goals? If so, now is the time to check yourself against those goals. 

What career wins did you have over the past year?  What achievements are you proud of? Now is the time to give yourself a hand and celebrate success. 

You may not have met some goals or objectives due to circumstances outside your control.  On the other hand, if there were career gaols that were within your control to reach, and you didn’t achieve them, it’s time to do some soul-searching. What stood in your way?  Was it motivation, skills, or abilities? 

It’s smart to spend time pinpointing what went wrong, so that you can correct it for the year ahead.  You’ll need to do things differently in the future to get a different result. 

It’s also valuable to think about what helped you, and what hindered you, in the pursuit of achieving your gaols.   Whatever helped, can you expect more of the same for the year ahead?  And as for what hindered you, what actions can you take to reduce their impact in the year ahead? 

2.  Your relationships

Now let’s cast a long hard look over your relationships.  How many 3am friends do you have? These are friends that you can call at 3am in the morning with a problem, and they’ll drop everything to listen to you and provide you with the support that you need. In turn, you need to be a 3am friend to them too – because what is friendship without reciprocity? 

Also evaluate your friends in terms of how they add or subtract to your life. Do they play a supportive and positive role? Or do they bring you down?  

Some friends may drain you.  Now’s the time to critically view those relationships and re-evaluate their role and purpose in your life.  If a friend is going through a temporary dip, that’s completely understandable and they need your support. However, if over a long period of time you’re consistently giving more than you get, perhaps it’s time to loosen those ties a bit. 

If you believe the adage that you’re the sum total of the five people you spend the most time with, what does this say about you?  Do you like what you see?

We have friends for a reason, friends for a season and friends for life.  Are you clear who falls into which category?

3.  Your finances

Did you take a deep breath when you read this heading? If so, time to tackle the elephant in the room!

How did your finances perform over the past year?  Are things looking better or worse than this time last year?  And how much control did you have over this?

Many people had a difficult year and went backwards financially.  Sometimes circumstances beyond our control reduce our earnings and take their toll on our assets or investments.

However, if you were one of the lucky ones whose earnings were not disrupted during this past year of the pandemic, how well did you manage your money?  Are you moving forwards or backwards?  Did you set yourself any specific financial goals and, if so, how was your performance?

And most importantly, do you set aside time each month to review your financial goals?

4.  Your health

Was this past year kind to you? And were you kind to your body?  Be honest!  If you kept fit and healthy, well done to you.  Your consistent efforts paid off and you’re reaping the benefits.

If you faced physical or mental health challenges, now’s the time to accept with grace what happened. Acknowledge your accomplishments in how you coped with the challenges that presented themselves. Well done. You’re a survivor.  You overcame and you’re back in the game. 

If you didn’t have any setbacks but your year was not as good as you’d planned, don’t abandon hope!  And don’t be too ambitious in the goals you set yourself for the year ahead.  It’s better to do a little, step by step, than to be erratic and inconsistent in your efforts.  Good habits take months to establish

5.  Your learning and personal growth

If you learned nothing new this past year, then you’re in real danger of becoming a complacent dinosaur.  And we all know how that went. 

If you can count on the fingers of one hand what you learned, that’s a start. 

If you need more than two hands to count your new skills, experiences and insights, you deserve all the good stuff that’s going to come your way.  Because it will! By growing your skills and abilities you are staying relevant and futureproofing yourself. And hopefully you’re having a lot of fun whilst doing so.  

And if you’re a BestStepEver member, by now your toolkit is jampacked with skills, tips and techniques that are easy to use to get ahead and manage everything that life throws at you.  Your personal roadmap for success gives you a clear idea of your personal growth milestones. 

6.  Unfinished business

No stocktake is complete without considering what business you’ve left unfinished this year. Are there projects that need finalizing?  Relationships that need closure?  Regrets you need to address? 

Now’s the time to make a list of undone stuff that you don’t want to carry with you into the new year.  Just make sure that the list is realistic. Rather address one or two large issues (the ones that keep you awake at night) instead of a whole lot of little unnecessary ones. Because that’s just another form of procrastination.

Tackle the tiger!

What does a 'team' stocktake look like?

Now that we’ve done a personal audit, it’s time to move onto a team audit. Because wherever we are and whatever we’re doing, we rarely do it alone. Usually we’re part of a larger team. Like it or not, the quality of the team has a huge impact on our personal success.

Here are the six factors important to consider when doing a team audit.

BSE Team stocktake

1.  Direction

Let’s start with a reflection on the path that the team has walked this past year.

Did the team make good strides in the right direction in the past year?  Is the direction clear, is everyone aligned and were the goalposts reached? 

Chances are you’ll feel this was a mixed bag – and that the team had to change direction quickly at times because of changes in the external environment.   That’s life!  What matters is the speed at which the team adjusted and adapted.  How satisfied are you with the agility and flexibility of the team to meet new challenges over the past year? 

If you had to do things differently, what would it be?

2.  Relationships

A high-performing team has effective relationships in place. Team members are confident about their unique contribution to the smooth functioning of the team.  People collaborate well with each other.  Different viewpoints are valued and conflict is dealt with constructively.  

How did your team perform on these aspects?  Who would you say are your strongest team players? And which team members need further development in this regard? 

Overall, how much more cohesive is the team now than a year ago?  And to what do you attribute that? 

And if the team is weaker, well there’s work to do!  Time to do some reflection and discuss an improvement plan with the team.

3.  Resources

No matter how tight the budget is, all teams have resources at their disposal. These resources consist of things like technology, time, money, relationships. 

If you take a step back, how effectively did the team make use of the resources available to it? Did the resources get stretched to deliver as much as possible? Or were there wasted opportunities? 

It’s useful to drill down to examine the use of each of the resources available to the team.  If resources are being neglected, now’s the time to identify how best to use them for the year ahead. 

4.  Wellbeing

It’s near the end of the year.  Is the team burnt-out or bursting with energy?

Did you have any specific team replenishment strategies in place to maintain peak performance and if so, how well did they work?

If the team is exhausted, that could be a message that the current pace or modus operandi is unsustainable.  How could you address this in the months ahead to ensure that the team moderates its energy to maintain high levels of productivity?

If the team has plenty of energy, well done!  Just make sure that it’s a sign of healthy energy expenditure and not of under-utilization. 

Now this question relates equally to individual members of the team.  Who took strain over the past year and who cruised through it all? Often the answer to this question leads you to examine individual roles, responsibilities, and job roles within the team more closely.  Now’s an ideal time to balance out the workload if needed. 

5.  Learning and team development

If you had to ask the team what they learnt over the past year, what would they say? Don’t know? Then why not devote some time to this at the next team meeting? Collaborative learning is a great way to advance the development of the team as a whole.

Did any formal team development activities take place during the year? If so, were the objectives of the learning reached? 

Often you’ll find that informal learning has a greater impact than formal learning.  However, a high-functioning team uses both to move ahead and become stronger than the year before. 

And finally, what gaps in team development do you spot?  How could the performance of the team be strengthened further?  This is the time to identify specific behaviours and skills that will boost your team’s progress. 

6.  Unresolved business

What business has been left unfinished at this time of the year? Think of people, tasks and processes when you answer this question.  

We never get to complete everything, so all the small stuff can safely be left undone. However the important tasks, which have the potential to negatively impact the team’s success, should be tackled head on. What’s your plan to get this done and dusted?

The issues that no-one wants to speak about – the elephant in the room – are the things that are most likely to hamper the team and hold it back from true high performance.  Often it helps to engage a facilitator to bring the issues onto the table, to promote honest conversation and to craft a solution acceptable to all.  Time to schedule this, perhaps?

Wrapping up the team stocktake

All things considered, how would you rate your team’s performance on a scale from 1 to 10 over the past year?

And of all the six factors above, which one step can you take this year still that will have the strongest positive impact?

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