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End of Year Reviews

End of Year Reviews

What a year 2020 has been. It’s put a strain on us all: mentally, physically, personally and professionally. So, as we come to our end of year reviews, how should we approach them?

We take a look at the importance of regular appraisals, emotional intelligence, setting targets for 2021 and how to assess personnel that may have been furloughed or missed a significant chunk of time due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Read on to discover more…

 

End of Year Reviews

End of year reviews are annual meetings held to evaluate performance and identify any causes of concern or improvement. They provide an important opportunity to:

  • Identify areas of weakness and create a plan to address this
  • Refine responsibilities – referencing priorities and workload
  • Identify opportunities for development – with reference to training or next steps
  • Agree measurable targets and next steps

However, as well as being an opportunity for examination and assessment, end of year reviews also act as a great time for employees to celebrate their achievements. By reflecting back on the year, both parties can recognise the progress made by the employee and explore exciting next steps.

Remember, the review process is the ideal opportunity for employees to share how you can help them perform better!

However, it’s fair to say that this year is a bit different. With many employees absent from the business, forced into new homeworking conditions and mass uncertainty about what the future holds, it’s important to adapt accordingly.

In the next section of this blog, we will advise how you can lead a suitable review in the current climate.

 

Acting with Empathy

Research shows that empathy is one of the key drivers of overall performance and that teams with more empathetic bosses produce better results. Therefore, with a difficult year under our belts, we urge you to actively act with empathy.

Whilst we’re not suggesting that you simply let employees off the hook for the year, now more than ever, managers must apply an appropriate dose of context with their judgements, rather than viewing performance as just black or white.

Employees are facing a multitude of toils and trouble – with fears of job loss, stress and concerns for health having a significant effect on the workforce as a whole. Therefore, having the emotional intelligence and sensitivity to navigate a successful appraisal in the current circumstances could prove more difficult than anticipated.

When assessing your employees, consider:

  • How can I reassure and support the employee?
  • Has the pandemic impacted results?
  • Would I expect leniency if I missed my targets?
  • How can I fairly judge performance?

Whilst analysing progress is key to a successful appraisal, ensure that this is well-balanced with time to check in with the employee, their wellbeing and their plans for the future. Remember, it wasn’t the choice of some to work from home and it could have uprooted feelings of great difficulty or isolation.

Discuss how you can better support them – considering how you can help nurture growth and development. Whilst it’s understandable that many employers wont’ be in a financial position to fund training, pay rises or even promise job security, it may be possible for personnel to utilise this quieter period to undertake free training to further their skills.

It may be useful to point your employees in the direction of The Skills Toolkit for free digital courses that can help teach new skills, recap fundamentals or further knowledge.

 

Looking to the Future

One aspect of reviews this year that will prove to be especially difficult is setting attainable targets for 2021. Whilst the economy is unstable and uncertain, it’s very difficult to predict how businesses will fare. Therefore, this needs to be reflected in targets and the usual increase in performance or productivity may need be reviewed.

It’s important to:

  • Set SMART objectives
  • Be realistic – recognise that targets may need to digress from previous years
  • Focus on what is attainable in the current circumstances
  • Set targets that asses the quality of work produced, not just quantity
  • Consider reviewing targets quarterly

Finally, when making plans for the future and discussing next steps, consider how this will look in the coming weeks and months. Will home working be permanent? How will this affect how employees are measured? Do you need to increase the frequency of reviews or touch-base more? These are all questions that must be answered when putting plans in place for 2021.

 

How to Assess Furloughed Staff:

This year is like no other. Shocks to the economy have meant that much of the workforce have experienced reduced hours, furlough or been absent from the business for weeks or months at a time. So, how should you assess your furloughed staff?

An Employer’s Standpoint:

As an employer, there is no issue in carrying out appraisals whilst your employees are furloughed, since taking part in the appraisal would not count as work.

However, the person who is leading the appraisal (ie, the manager), could not be furloughed whilst appraisals are being conducted. This is because the appraisals are counted as work for the manager or company representative leading the meeting.

Considerations:

Just because an employee hasn’t been present for the whole year, it doesn’t mean that you should skip your end of year appraisal.

This meeting is greatly beneficial for both the employer and employee to check in, refocus and identify how to progress. Failure to do so may result in:

  • Employee confusion, upset and anxiety
  • Uncertainty for the future
  • Outdated or inappropriate goals or targets

How do you measure new starters? Or those that have returned from maternity leave? Measuring employees on a part-time basis isn’t a new concept. As with most plans this year, it just needs a little adapting.

 

More Support – For Them and For You:

Feedback shouldn’t just be provided once a year in an annual review. In fact, most employees respond best to continual feedback from their managers. To discover more about continual feedback, read our blog here. It’s a great way to provide more support for your employees, especially as many businesses continue with remote working.

For more support and information on how to conduct your staff appraisals, contact us today! We’re experts in supporting you with even the most complicated people-management headaches, so that you can rest easy knowing that you’re doing best by your business and employees.

 

Setting Targets for 2021

Setting Targets for 2021

Setting targets for a business right now feels like an impossible task.

It’s been said before this year that forecasts are pointless because they are so soon out of date. As a result, people assume they don’t achieve anything. Even more so this year, people feel that setting targets when the world changes so much from week to week is a fruitless exercise.

It will not come as a surprise that I disagree.

 

 

Why set targets now?

From experience, it seems that forecasts are prepared and targets are set for two main reasons:

  • To prepare for differing scenarios of business performance
  • To drive a change in behaviour

In 2020 especially, preparing for differing scenarios is key to survival. It enables you to react quickly to changing conditions.

 

Preparation for changes in business performance

Even before the pandemic, clients looked to a forecast to help them prepare for the what-ifs. It helped them to understand the impact – both good and bad – ahead of time.

The most common priorities have been:

  • Planning growth and the related costs – Think recruitment, management investment time, marketing strategy or increased overheads
  • Funding – Understanding what funding might be required to grow the business or alternatively needed to fund any reduction in income
  • Capacity – Do you have the right level of staffing, how can you manage ebbs and flows
  • Scenarios – What would 10% more or less income mean for your profits and cashflow

Once the targets are set, vulnerabilities can be identified and plans to deal with them accordingly.

The next step is to set the detailed objectives required to deliver the targets set.

 

Driving Behavioural change

Our clients are self-motivated and know what they want from their business. They don’t look to a forecast to drive a change in their own behaviour. However, in cascading those targets to employees, they see it as driving behavioural change throughout the business. This goes far wider than the simplest example where sales targets are linked to remuneration.

Sharing the objectives of the business with staff results in:

  • Greater staff retention – Staff are bought into the aims of the business for the year ahead and motivated to help achieve them.
  • Reduced pressure – Sharing the objectives of what you want to achieve and the actions to achieve it with staff doesn’t leave all the tasks at your door.
  • Quicker results – Shared objectives are achieved more quickly and not bottle-necked with you as the business owner
  • Innovative ideas – Openness encourages ideas and staff will contribute new ways of thinking all working to achieve your targets
  • Staff objectives – The sometimes-onerous task of writing staff objectives happens organically with the forecast aims cascaded down into the detailed requirements which can be more easily allocated across the workforce

So, with all this uncertainty around – the reason to forecast is to help businesses cope. It enables businesses to plan for the worst and the best and understand the impacts now. Setting detailed targets for you and your staff follows on from the high-level forecast and will help you to achieve your aims.

 

Get your finances on track with Helen Fleet:

Helen Fleet of HF Financial Strategy works as a finance director and guides companies to delivering their financial and business objectives which can include cash flow planning, pricing reviews and ways to improve profitability.

If you’d like to know more about Helen, visit her website here or follow her on LinkedIn.