Increasing productivity through annual performance reviews

I’m guessing that at this time of year many of you are in the process of preparing for or carrying out your annual performance reviews. Determining the deadlines for review documents to be completed and pay increases to be agreed, developing communications for managers and employees to remind them of the importance of completing the reviews on time (perhaps with the threat of ‘no salary increase’ for those who don’t comply), then carrying out the reviews, chasing up and reporting on return rates.

So there is certainly a significant hike in productivity at this time of year linked to the annual performance review process. But do you get the best return on your investment for the hours you spend on it?

Lets look at an example of a business with just 250 employees. Each person spends an average of say 1.5 hours preparing for their annual review and then attends a meeting that lasts one hour (we know they can last longer). And don’t forget an annual review also involves the line manager, so you can double the time and add an additional hour to write up the review. Sound familiar? So that’s 6 hours to review each of the 250 employees. Using the 2018 national average salary, that’s a cost of £23K And if you have 5000 employees, that’s £461K. And this is only one element of the time that is invested in the annual performance review process.

And everyone loves doing it, right? No. Too often the focus is about completing a process within a tight deadline. We can lose sight of the fact that this is about an individual. So how motivational is it really as a management tool? And how many HR teams report on completion of the process, as opposed to changes in performance as a measure of success?

There are various views about the benefits of an annual performance review and I am not going to say an annual review is totally redundant for all organisations. After all there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ model. But what ever your view point and business needs, there is a real opportunity to be gained from reflecting on whether you are motivating performance and getting a good return on your investment.

Adapting for the future – what does it mean for your career?

Over the summer holidays I visited London with my daughter and stayed at a hotel in Stratford, by the Olympic Park. It was certainly a far distance from the roaming fields and wildlife of Holmfirth where we live, or so I thought.

As we arrived back to the hotel I was taken by surprise to see a fox walk past. Clearly looking for food but certainly did not appear to be a stranger to its urban environment. And it got me thinking about how the fox has adapted to the changing world it lives in.

There has been much discussion about the future of work and how it is changing in response to technology. Two reports that are well worth a read are ‘The Fourth Industrial Revolution‘ (World Economic Forum Jan 2017) and ‘Jobs lost, jobs gained: what the future of work will mean for jobs, skills and wages‘ (McKinsey November 2017). Both share valuable insights into the type of work that is likely to be in demand in the coming years and the work that is likely to be redundant, as automation and artificial intelligence (AI) become more prevalent in our workplaces.

So if we know the working world is changing or we have stayed in a role longer than we should, to the point it no longer offers us the same level of enjoyment or motivation to perform, what stops us from taking the plunge and applying for another role?

According to research carried out by LinkedIn, 42% of Brits said a lack of confidence would deter them from applying for a new position. It also found that 22% of the 2005 adults surveyed said that fears they may dislike a job or secure a worse role than their current job, would put them off from applying for another role.

Too often we stay in roles that have expired their use by date because it is what we know and are familiar with. Being faced with redundancy can be the only time we question what we want to do next in our careers and take action to make it happen. But just like the fox, sometimes you need to take control of your career before its too late.

Here’s four steps that you can help:

Step 1 – Decide what you want. Identify your skills, strengths, values and achievements, and what you want from your next opportunity. It is too easy sometimes to accept a job offer for the sake of it. Giving advance thought to what you want before you start your job search will help you to stay focused and find the role and company that is right for you.

Step 2 – Take a look at the market. According to the Office for National Statistics, there was 833,000 reported job vacancies in the UK between May and July 2018, 44,000 more than a year earlier and the highest since comparable records began in 2001. So there has certainly been no better time to look at what is available. In some ways it has never been as easy to see so many job vacancies all in one place with the internet, but you can feel overwhelmed about where to start. And there is a lot of research that indicates that most jobs are filled through networking. In fact LinkedIn found that in 2016, Over 70% of people were hired at a company where they had a connection. So give some thought to who is in your network and may be able to help – friends, family, past and present colleagues.

Step 3 – Prepare for and tailor your application. A potential employer wants to see if you have the skills, experience, values and behaviours that they are looking for and that you have a genuine desire to want to work for them. So make your application count. Show them that you have made the effort to find out what they are looking for and have tailored your application accordingly. And your preparation should also include questions you want to ask to see if the role is right for you. Remember to use what you did in step 1.

Step 4 – Get support. If you feel you need that little bit of extra support to explore what is important to you and plan your career, or to help you craft a CV or prepare for an interview, a career coach can provide you with tailored support so that you can be the best possible version of you and have a career that you enjoy.

The fox we saw had certainly taken control of its future rather than being faced with extinction. Don’t let others dictate your future. Take control and make a plan to create your own sustainable career.