HR group publishes first benchmarking survey

19 November 2012
U21 HR group's benchmarking study on Performance Management Systems.

In 2011, the U21 Human Resources group identified key topics in HR for benchmarking research in order to share best practice. University of Glasgow offered to take a lead in chairing the group for the first year, and initiating the first project looking at Performance Management Systems across participating institutions of the U21 network. Eleven U21 universities participated in the benchmarking survey and shared HR policy documentation to illuminate good practice in performance management.


We found that participating organisations share a common goal of performance management in aligning individual performance to institutional purpose, and share a view that performance and development review is a key means of impacting on the culture of their organisation, with staff engagement cited as one of the main benefits of the P&DR process. Although the P&DR process is mandatory in most cases, participants usually encourage an ongoing conversation between managers and staff as good practice.


The survey highlighted areas of considerable expertise and good practice across U21, with examples from all participants. These include leadership training and development, one-to-one coaching, training in international issues and career planning.


We also found common challenges in the practice of Performance and Development Review: most commonly, ensuring the quality of conversation between managers and staff, how to set goals effectively and how to ensure a consistency of approach across different departments.


Key discussion points emerging from the report include how to increase compliance in P&DR; key approaches to consistency and quality of P&DR conversations; the use of statistical information to determine trends; and effective ways to link individual objectives to institutional strategy.


The report offers some key areas for further discussion which will enable a more in-depth examination of what works well in those universities who excel in P&DR practice, and how this can be shared and reworked into models which work for others. The HR group plan to use the key discussion points as the basis for a workshop to examine specific topics in more detail and to discuss further topics from those identified initially by the HR group.


We aim to share the U21 HR report across the U21 network, including those who did not participate in this particular piece of work but who may wish to benefit from the findings and join the HR group at a later date. A report from the workshop will also be made available, where we hope to share practical strategies for address the key challenges and discussion points outlined above.