The Managerial Odyssey 2024 - Stage 1 - Les Petites Cantines - How to Revolutionize the Annual Review

In this article, we talk about the collective annual review 😎

At Les Petites Cantines, the annual review is not individual but collective. Is it really possible to evaluate oneself individually in a purely collective context?

We explain how it works!

🕐 Reading time: 6 min

The Collective Annual Review in One Day


  1. 1. The collective annual review: how does it work at Les Petites Cantines?
  2. 1.1 What form does it take?
  3. 1.2 What are the steps?
  4. 1.3 The posture of the “manager”
  5. 2. What surprised us the most

1. The Collective Annual Review

"The annual review is defined as a time to evaluate the employee's work and performance over the past year. It is the moment to review the commitments made by both parties; either at the time of hiring or during the previous annual review. It can be a privileged moment of exchange between the two parties to discuss all work-related subjects: atmosphere, behavior problems, etc. The annual review is also a guide for the coming year: objectives, expectations, requests. It is a non-mandatory but widely used tool because it is useful and practical in managing resources."

The most common form of the annual review is the individual annual review. However, some organizations/companies are beginning to see the limits of this practice (lack of objectivity, new expectations in the work relationship, lack of time for development between two reviews) and are turning towards collective evaluation methods.

The classic recipe is to combine the individual annual review (manager-employee) with what is often called a “360° feedback campaign” that allows gathering opinions from peers about the work done. The 360 campaign aims to enrich the exchanges of the individual annual review. 

At Les Petites Cantines, the collective annual review is quite different from others…

The Collective Annual Review at Les Petites Cantines: How Does It Work?

🎯 The goal of this practice is to:

👉 Cultivate a company culture based on trust and feedback

👉 Foster a sense of belonging to the collective

👉 Avoid power abuses by putting everyone on an equal footing

👉 Value everyone’s voice

👉 Benefit from collective intelligence to improve

1️⃣ What form does it take?

  • One day per year
  • where all collaborators are invited (regardless of position)
  • to share their feelings and give feedback

2️⃣ What are the steps?

Beforehand: introspection – individual phase

Each member individually fills out a predefined grid to reflect meta-cognitively on their contribution to the world, their successes, failures, and objectives. In life in general, and at work.

On the day: sharing and feedback – collective phase

The process, timing, and setting are established (known to all) and reminded at the beginning of the day: confidential, benevolent, quality of listening.

The only unknown is the order of speaking. Members sit in a circle, and a person is randomly chosen to be the first to receive feedback. The person to their right is their scribe.

  1. Individual sharing: the person at the center shares what they want from their introspection exercise (they can choose not to share anything)
  2. Silence: a moment of silence to integrate the information
  3. Collective sharing: each other member answers 2 questions in 3/4 minutes: What does working with you bring me? In which areas do I perceive you could improve? → at this moment, everyone is put on an equal footing: the junior gives feedback to the senior, and vice versa. At the end of the round of questions, the person in the center can react or not, and they receive the notes taken by their colleague as a gift. Then, the process is repeated with a new person (the scribe also changes). This continues until all members have received their feedback.

NB: this day always takes place outside of the workplace, in a cozy location. This year, one of the employees suggested the team meet… in her garden!

One month later: general debrief – collective phase

Three weeks/one month after the collective day, members meet for a debrief. A person is randomly chosen in advance to make the summary. This is the time to give cold feedback on the day’s proceedings and to turn the words into concrete evolutions for the future.

In addition to this practice and without the aim of evaluation, Bertrand, the general coordinator we met, has a meeting every two months with each collaborator to collect their feelings (regarding work pace and workload, team atmosphere, etc.).

3️⃣ The importance of the “manager’s” posture

The posture of the “manager”, of the hierarchically superior person, is fundamental.

At Les Petites Cantines, there is no manager. The organization tries to function as horizontally as possible, with positions and responsibilities differentiated other than by the traditional vertical hierarchy. Members have a role in serving a collective and an objective.

Bertrand is the general coordinator. This role can be likened to that of a CEO for traditional companies. The terminology greatly influences the perception of roles and the company culture. The posture to adopt to make this practice work:

  • Accepting feedback from all other members (regardless of position and seniority)
  • Accepting not to control and to share power
  • Prioritizing the interest of the group and the organization over one’s own
  • Humility
  • Listening
  • Questioning oneself
  • Benevolence
  • Ensuring that everyone respects the rules of the game in the same way

NB: and indeed, it was Bertrand who proposed the collective annual review and its modalities… As it turns out, it is possible to propose management practices that limit one’s own power for the benefit of the organization. Food for thought…

2. What surprised us the most...

The reactions of the collaborators! When we asked them what they thought, we did not expect this practice to be so emotionally intense.

They explained to us that this exercise is not simple, although they unanimously agree on its positive impact. To open up, prepare, give, and receive feedback requires a lot of emotional investment. In reality, we have never really learned how to give and receive feedback.

To implement this practice, or simply if you wish to create moments of collective feedback, it is important to properly support all members in preparing for the event, and to create/remind the framework of trust. And a plus, why not train in NVC*!

And finally, the most surprising, innovative, and inspiring… in this form of evaluation, there is never a one-on-one employer-employee confrontation 🙅‍♂️.

Authors: Vincent and Clémentine, The Managerial Odyssey 2024.