Welcome to HR Coffee Time. It's great to have you here. I'm your host, Fay Wallis, a career and executive coach with a background in HR and I'm also the Founder of Bright Sky Career Coaching. I've made HR Coffee Time especially for you to help you have a successful and fulfilling HR and People career without working yourself into the ground.
In today's episode, we are going to be taking a look at how quarterly reviews can help you thrive in your HR career. If you have the hardback copy of my HR planner, or you are using the free PDF version of the planner, you are probably wondering what I'm talking about because although there is a quarterly planning section at the front of it, there aren't any quarterly review pages further into the planner.
I'll quickly explain what the HR Planner is in case this is the first time that you've heard about it. Before becoming a coach, I had an HR career, which means I know how hectic working in HR can be and how easy it is to get swept up in the day-to-day activities and the firefighting looking after everyone else in the organization, which means you can feel that you are on a hamster wheel and not having the impact that you want to.
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I'm afraid the hardback one is completely sold out for this year but the free version is there. You can also download it from my website, which is brightskycareercoaching.co.uk. And each year that I create the HR Planner, I think, "Well, that's it then. I've put everything I have into it. I can't see any way I'm going to improve it for next year." But of course the minute I've published it, I suddenly realize there's something else that I could have added. Or as the year goes on, it dawns on me that there are some extra things that I could put in there that would really help you. And that is exactly what has happened to me this week. I was a bit behind with using my HR Planner. So I do use the HR Planner myself, and I was filling in my monthly reflection sheet for March, even though we're in the second week of April. I figure it doesn't matter. It's still so helpful to do that monthly reflection that I always do it, even if I'm a tiny bit late with it.
And as I was filling in that monthly reflection sheet, I realized how helpful it would be to have a quarterly review page as well. Because although I always get lots of positive feedback about the monthly reflection pages, and I find them a big help myself doing a quarterly review gives you that opportunity to pull yourself out of the weeds and take a more bird's eye view or a helicopter view of what you are working on, so you can be truly sure that you are on the right track with everything and you can make some changes if you'd like to, and set yourself up for success in the next quarter.
I've spent a big chunk of this week obsessing about quarterly reviews and researching all different kinds of formats, and I'm going to use this episode to talk you through how to create your own one. I want to start off by saying it doesn't matter at this point. If you haven't set yourself a single goal for the year or ever used the HR Planner; it doesn't matter at all.
We can just take stock of where you are up to and set yourself goals. No matter where you are in the year. If you are in a leadership role and you have got other colleagues in the HR or People team who work with you, this can be a really valuable exercise to do with them as a team. It's a great way to be able to acknowledge some of the successes that have taken place so far, and to make sure that everyone has a chance to contribute their ideas and is on board and understands what the focus is going to be for the next quarter.
To start your quarterly review, I'd like you to take out a sheet of paper and draw a rectangle on it. One that fills up the whole page so that you've got lots of space to write inside it. You then need to divide up that rectangle into four quarters and add a title to each quarter. The title you're going to give the first quarter is, "Assess". The title you're going to give the second quarter is, "Affirm". The title for the third quarter is "Alter", and the title for the fourth and final quarter is, "Action". I thought it would help make it more memorable if each quarter started with an A. I don't know if I'm right or not, but I'm going with it.
Then I want you to look back at the goals you set yourself for the beginning of the year. If you already have done that, that's just to remind yourself of what they were. Or if you're listening to this much later on in the year, and we are on the second, third, or final quarter, you probably don't need to go all the way back to the beginning of the year.
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You also might find it useful to take a look at some of the exercises at the beginning of the HR Planner to help you think about what kind of goals and activities are going to be most interesting and impactful for you to focus on. But of course, if you have already done that goal setting, you have been doing the monthly reviews, then that's great - just read through those and you are ready to crack on.
One other thing to mention is that if you are in a leadership role, you also might want to listen to two other episodes to help you approach this as strategically as possible.
The episodes are Episode 61: The 4 pillars that will help you be strategic in your HR role and Episode 26: How to be strategic in your new HR leadership role. They're just really there to help you stay laser focused on the things that are going to have the biggest impact for the organization you work in, and of course in turn, that will also have a great impact on your career.
Okay, now that you've done all of that, you are ready to start filling in the, "Assess" quarter of your page, and here are some questions to help you with assessing how everything has gone for the previous quarter.
You can listen to each question and pause after you've heard each one so that you've got time to write down your reflections if you are listening to this live at the same time as doing the activity. Or otherwise, you can listen to it now and of course, always come back to it again later.
The first question is, "What have you achieved, or what went well?" The second question is, "What didn't go as well as hoped?" "What got in the way?" "Are your career values being met?" "If you have KPIs or data, what can you learn from these?" "What improvements could you put in place to make things even better?"
And finally, "Has anything changed for the organization, for you or for the team since the beginning of the quarter?"
Hopefully, as you jot down the answers to all of those questions, it's going to really unlock your thinking and help you see what's been going brilliantly so you can give yourself a pat on the back.
It's not all about just looking forwards all the time. It's really important that we acknowledge what we're doing well. But also, of course, to give you some ideas as to what you would like to move forward with, what goals you might need to tweak, what goals you can stick with as they are now, and then what actions you're going to be taking going forward.
Once you've finished writing down all of your reflections from that first quadrant, it's time to move on to quadrant two, which we have titled "Affirm". And the questions for this one are, "What's working for you that you want to carry on doing?", "Which goals that you set earlier in the year do you want to stick to?", and, "What tasks are you already committed to that are in the calendar for the next quarter?"
Because of course there'll be lots of things that are on track going well, you want to carry on with, or goals that you set yourself that you may not have started on yet, but you would like to get cracking with for the second quarter. So that's why I've called this one "Affirm". It's all about affirming the things that you've already put in place to stay on track with them.
Then the third quarter had the title "Alter". This is the opposite of a firm, and the one question I've put in this quadrant for the moment for you to think about is, "What new or adjusted goals do you want to set for this quarter and/or for the rest of the year?" Where I filled this sheet in myself, this is where I have actually ended up writing down the most.
I do still have some things in the Affirm quadrant, so goals and things that I want to carry on with that I had already set for myself, but it's incredible how much your ideas and thinking and the situation can change in just a few months. So I've already had some ideas for new things I'd like to try, and a couple of ideas and goals that I'm going to park for the moment that I thought were a great idea at the beginning of the year, but I'm less sure now.
Then finally, we are on the fourth quadrant, which is titled, "Action". For this quadrant, I want you to read through your answers and your reflections for quadrants one, two, and three, and then you're going to write down what action you're going to take. So this is all about moving forwards. The first question is, unsurprisingly, "What actions do you need to take as a result of this quarterly review?"
The next question is, "Who do you need to communicate the results of this quarterly review to?" I thought that was really important to include because so often we can just carry on with what we are doing and forget that there are other key people that we should be keeping updated about things, especially if we want a project to be a success.
We may even need to involve them and get their input from them or get their sign off from them. Another thing you might want to communicate are your successes, especially if you are part of a team. It's easy to forget that everyone else in the organization won't have necessarily been paying full attention to what you and your team have been working on.
So please do have a moment to think about how you can shine a light on all of the achievements and all of the good work that you and the team have been doing. And then finally, the final thing that is written in the action column for you to take action on isn't a question. Instead, it's more of an instruction.
So, "Plot down the key dates and the milestones onto the monthly calendar pages of your HR Planner". So this is thinking about, right, what are the goals? What are the action? What are the tasks? Let's break them down. So they're in manageable chunks. You've got deadlines on them, you've got them all plotted in, so you've made sure you've got enough time to take action on them, and then that is it. You'll be done.
Although it's only taken me a few minutes, I think it's taken about 10 minutes, maybe a little bit more for me to record this episode, this exercise will take you more than 10 minutes if you want to do it really thoroughly, and especially if you're going to do it with a team.
So once you've tried this, if you've enjoyed it and found it really helpful, you might find it useful to actually dedicate some time in your calendar for the end of each quarter to do this review so you can stay on track of it, so you won't be like me doing it two weeks into the following quarter instead of straight away.
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Thank you so much. I hope you enjoyed today's episode and found it helpful, and I will be back again next week with the next episode for you. Have a great week in the meantime.