FUEL Review Guide

Annual FUEL Review

Forward-thinking - Unified - Empowered - Leadership

Our IT workforce provides the FUEL that powers success and innovation at the University of Montana. The annual review process provides an opportunity for each individual within IT to reflect on how they have contributed to FUEL during the past year, what actions they will take in the future, and what support they will need to be successful. This is followed by a two-way, individualized meeting between a supervisor and their direct-report about workplace impact, direction, and future development.


Step 1. Each employee completes the online Annual FUEL Review form as a self-reflection. This provides each employee an opportunity to reflect on their contribution to UM IT and express their professional development aspirations. Helpful instructions, terms, and phrasing examples are provided in the FUEL Review Tool Box below. A printable version is attached to this article.

Step 2. Supervisors review each of their direct-report’s self-reflection and updates the form with written commentary, work related recommendations, and relevant feedback.

Step 3. Supervisors attach a copy of their personal Annual FUEL Review self-reflection to each direct-report’s submission. This provides an opportunity for direct-reports to see how supervisors view themselves and their contributions to UM IT.

Step 4. Supervisor and direct-report set a meeting time.

Step 5. Supervisor and direct-report meet to discuss the FUEL Reviews, goals and priorities for the upcoming year, and any developmental or support needs identified.

Step 6. After the meeting, the Annual FUEL Review is finalized and sent to upper management and Human Resources. 

Step 7. IT Leadership conducts a formative review of the information brought forth by employees for the purpose of improving workplace effectiveness, efficiency, and culture. Specific trainings and courses identified in the FUEL Reviews are investigated and considered for staff-development potential. Ideas and activities that improve the organization are added to the IT Workforce Improvement (IT-WI) plan and acted on accordingly.

Fuel Review Guide

Below you will find concepts, terms, and phrases that may help you reflect on your contributions to UM IT, complete your self-reflection form, provide feedback to those you review, and gain the most out of the FUEL Review process.

An important reminder

The Annual FUEL Review is intended to benefit staff and better UM IT. Taking time to explore how your presence contributes to UM, discussing your strengths and weaknesses with a supervisor, and providing constructive feedback to leadership on ways they can engage and empower you is critical for IT’s success. This is a time for employees and supervisors to align their aspirations, expectations, and plans moving forward.

Employees - Self-reflection can be difficult. It may help to use specific tasks or projects as examples to highlight your abilities and accomplishments. Remember to emphasize how you impact those around you, the IT organization, and the University of Montana. Also, keep in mind that you are a valuable IT asset. Let your supervisor know what motivates you to work for UM IT.

Supervisors - Along with providing direct-reports with a better understanding of what they are doing well and where improvements are needed, consider coaching or mentoring staff interested in advancing their IT career. This involves listening to what motivates an employee to work for UM, identifying their career ambitions, and helping to find the support they need to reach their full potential.

All - The following three perspectives should be considered when writing for each section of the Annual FUEL Review:

  1. Look back on the previous year. Highlight successes (e.g. goal progress, task or project success, effective relationships, etc.) and review opportunities for improvement (e.g. stalled timelines, performance issues, workload balance, etc.).
  2. Look forward to the upcoming year (e.g. specify goals and objectives, outline projects, forecast hurdles, discuss necessary re-alignments, etc.).
  3. Report support needed for your success (e.g. recognition for your efforts, potential partners, professional development opportunities, re-prioritized time and tasks, etc.).

Helpful links

FUEL and support examples 

The following concepts and phrases are grouped by the sections presented on the Annual FUEL Review and serve as examples that can be used to develop or construct responses to each question.

Forward-Thinking and looking ahead to the future of technology and new practices to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

Think about creativity, innovation, and vision. Consider problem solving skills and how issues are addressed. Detail efforts to provide tech solutions that lead to ongoing or future success. Provide evidence of staying abreast of current technologies and a desire to innovate moving forward.

Creativity or demonstrating a creative mindset

  • Seek creative alternatives such as [examples] that drove [results]
  • Clever and imaginative when confronted with obstacles
  • Continuously experimenting to drive [results]
  • Initiate and execute creative ideas such as, [example]
  • Develop innovative strategies such as, [example]
  • Promotes innovation by [example]


  • Proactively identify and obtain the resources needed to [project and outcomes]
  • Seek new solutions for [problem] and [took/plan] the following actions:


  • Demonstrates effort to acquire greater experience and skills by [example]
  • Is enhancing growth potential through additional education and training such as [example]


  • Develop creative solutions to address [issue]
  • Turn problems into opportunities like [example]
  • Effectively solve problems rather than address symptoms [specific example]


  • Excel at living the organization's values [example]
  • Promote strong support of the company's mission and vision
  • Turn vision into actual actionable plans [specific example]

Unified with each other and our clients, working together to have shared expectations and standard practices.

Think about communication, relationships, focus on goals, and alignment with organizational policy and practices. Consider customer service, camaraderie, bridging differences, and team-work. Provide examples of synergy and collaboration with clients, coworkers, and other campus entities. Identify exemplary attitude and behavior on projects, tasks, or meetings.


  • Effectively communicate [expectations/ideas/concerns] through [example]
  • Facilitate group discussions and keeps meetings on task [example]
  • Enforce company policies and values without creating negative reactions
  • Communicate in a professional manner [written, verbal, both]

Cooperation (Unified/Leadership/Empowered)

  • Encourages collaboration by [example]
  • Shares ideas, skills, and techniques [example]
  • Builds strong relationships with others by [example]
  • Consistently portrays a positive and pleasant attitude

Interpersonal Skills (Unified)

  • Recognizes the needs of others and reaches out to lend a helping hand
  • Establishes and/or maintains effective working relationships [example]
  • Displays a harmonious and cooperative spirit by [task]
  • Promotes the company culture by [example]


  • Develops workable action plans
  • Creates flexible plans to meet changing opportunities
  • Effectively puts plans into action

Empowered to help solve technology issues and use our expertise to further organizational goals.

Think about autonomy, decision-making, expertise, and execution. Provide evidence of taking initiative and bringing ideas and solutions forward. Demonstrate the value, talent, and abilities brought to clients, teams, and campus. Discuss acts of engaging additional or external resources to keep work flowing.


  • Achieves [satisfactory, optimal] levels of [performance, accomplishment] on [example]
  • Improved processes by [specific task]
  • Continuously examines effectiveness and seeks better procedures such as [tasks]
  • Turns problems into opportunities [example]
  • An important contributor to the successes of the department [example]


  • Encourages collaboration with the team
  • Proactively shares expertise, ideas, and techniques 


  • Proactively identifies and obtains all basic resources needed to complete a project
  • Seeks solutions rather than simply pointing out problems

Learning Capacity

  • Displays an ability to learn rapidly and adapt quickly to changing situations
  • Promotes a learning culture through [example]
  • Committed to continuously learning through [example]
  • Asks high-level questions; questions are surprising and salient.
  • Discerns job facts from opinions and recognizes bias in evidence

Time Management

  • Meets deadlines such as [example]
  • Prepares meeting agendas that are concise and timesaving
  • Respects the time of others
  • Makes effective use of discretionary time

Leadership, taking the lead and proactively offering thoughtful, innovative solutions to our partners.

Consider knowledge and ability to provide guidance. Examples of coaching, modeling behavior, empowering and influencing others. Evidence of actively participating in campus committees and outside organizations. Influence beyond campus.


  • Demonstrates leadership by [empowering, influencing] others [example]
  • Takes accountability for [actions, mistakes]
  • Provides [team, clients] with [direction, support] through [example]
  • Collaborates with team members to establish a development path
  • Holds [peers, managers, employees] accountable for their actions by [example]
  • Leads by setting an example for others to follow
  • Provides support during periods of organizational change [example]


  • Works with [team, client, outside entities or people] to [task]
  • Demonstrates leadership by encouraging collaboration [example]
  • Eager to share ideas and techniques [example]
  • Builds strong relationships with others by [task]


  • Develops workable action plans
  • Creates flexible plans to meet changing opportunities
  • Effectively puts plans into action

Supervising Skills

  • Gives consistent recognition to employees
  • Maintains a work situation which stimulates the growth of individual employees
  • Makes certain that employees have a clear understanding of their responsibilities
  • Is readily available to support employees
  • Recognizes and deals with signs of employee burnout
  • Acts to create an enjoyable and efficient shared work environment

I’m asking for the following support from IT Leadership:

Think about how leadership can better support your needs. Consider specific actions, ideas, or attitudes. Include specific professional development opportunities and trainings you are interested in attending.

Supervising Skills

  • I’m asking my supervisor to [be specific]
  • The following [class, training] is needed for me to [task]

Questions and Answers

Below are some questions and answers explaining the rational for using the Annual FUEL Review process.


The acronym FUEL, which stands for Forward-thinking, Unified, Empowered, Leadership, represents the workplace culture UM IT should strive to achieve. Therefore, it makes sense to use these same principles when reviewing IT employees. It indicates where leadership places value and establishes the actions and behaviors expected from our IT workforce.

Why self-review process over traditional performance evaluation?

There are many reasons for selecting a self-review process over a traditional evaluation. Here are a few that seemed relevant to our situation.

First, traditional performance reviews can seem burdensome, intrusive, and an unproductive use of time. They can be unfocused and overly used for justifying promotions or documenting deficiencies for disciplinary action or termination. Since there are other HR mechanisms in place for these purposes, reimagining the annual review into a more employee-growth focused format and process makes sense.

Second, providing self-reflection as part of the process better engages employees. It also helps to establish the value and importance of continuous reflection by employees.

Finally, supervisors benefit from employee self-reflection. They gain insights into employee attitudes toward work and their working-environment. It provides them a real sense of what motivates their employees and can uncover areas of misunderstanding and poor alignment.


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Article ID: 142967
Thu 4/28/22 8:53 AM
Mon 6/27/22 1:00 PM