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  • Writer's pictureJoe Farris

The Crucial Role of Postmortem Analysis in HR Focal Planning Cycles

hr focal planning

The end-of-year compensation, or HR “focal” planning process often marks a period of intense activity, centered on evaluating employee performance, promotions, and determining pay increases, bonuses, and equity. However, the importance of conducting a postmortem analysis of this process once it is completed is frequently overlooked. This analysis is vital to understand what worked, what didn't, and how the process can be improved for the next cycle.

The Value of Postmortem Analysis in HR Focal Planning Cycles

1. Operational Insights

A thorough review helps HR teams assess the operational aspects of the planning process. Was the process efficient? Did it utilize resources optimally? Understanding these elements can lead to more streamlined operations in future cycles.

2. Employee Experience

The focal planning process significantly impacts employee morale and engagement. A postmortem can reveal how employees perceived the process, whether it was transparent and fair, and whether their expectations aligned with the outcomes.

3. Manager/Leader Experience

Managers and business leaders play a critical role in the focal planning process. Their feedback is crucial to understanding the challenges they faced, the support they required, and the effectiveness of their communication with team members.

4. Communication Evaluation

Assessing the clarity, consistency, and timeliness of communication throughout the process is essential. Poor communication can lead to misunderstandings and dissatisfaction, which a postmortem analysis can help identify and rectify.

Addressing Equity and Fairness

A critical component of the postmortem is analyzing the equity of outcomes. Were there disparities in payouts across gender, race, and ethnicity? This analysis is not just a compliance requirement but a moral imperative to ensure fairness and inclusivity in the workplace.

Overcoming Resource Strain

Many companies find the focal planning process resource-intensive. A postmortem can be instrumental in identifying areas where resources are overstretched and devising strategies to allocate them more efficiently in the next cycle.

Learning from the Past

Without a postmortem, organizations risk repeating the same mistakes. This lack of reflection can lead to inefficiencies and dissatisfaction recurring year after year. By contrast, a well-conducted postmortem turns the previous cycle into a learning opportunity, setting the stage for continuous improvement.

Key Questions for a Productive Postmortem

To make the most of a postmortem analysis, HR leaders should ask:

  • How can we prioritize issues for the next cycle?

  • What strategies can we implement to make the process more efficient?

  • How can we improve the employee and managerial experience?


Conducting a postmortem analysis of the HR focal planning process is not just about critique; it's about building a stronger, more efficient, and fairer process for the future. It's an investment in the organization's most valuable asset – its people.

If your organization struggles with effective postmortem analyses or seeks to enhance its HR focal planning process, we are happy to offer our expert guidance and support. We are here for you when you need us. 

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