Common mistakes in managing reviews

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Common mistakes in managing reviews

What are the most common mistakes when managing reviews?

The most common mistakes when managing reviews are about inconsistently applying review policies and not supporting all parties to the review.

This includes managing perceptions of:

What do you mean by managing perceptions of ‘decision-maker and reviewer behaviours’?

Agency procedures must assure employees that review processes are fair and unbiased.

Having a credible decision-maker is an important step.

Employees need to be confident that the reviewer and delegate have open minds about the review applicant and the application.

That is, no:

  • preconceived ideas about the case or parties
  • unmitigated (unaddressed) conflicts of interest, real or perceived.


Roles and responsibilitiesComment


The reviewer is the person who assists the delegate. They investigate the review applicant's concerns.

The choice of reviewer often varies.

It may be a person in the business line, an agency legal officer, a human resources practitioner or a contractor.

Decision-maker or delegate

The delegate is appointed by the agency head (Section 33 of the Public Service Act).

They are the decision-maker on the review.

If delegations are held in business areas it is important that the position is sufficiently senior.

By choosing senior managers, the agency assures employees that their concerns are taken seriously.

The delegations to make review decisions are held in business areas in some agencies, while in others the function is centralised in human resources.

What do you mean by managing perceptions of ‘employees behaviours’?

Employees need to know they have both the right and the opportunity to raise concerns about matters affecting them in their employment, including seeking review.

They also need to know they will not attract criticism, when raising matters if they:

  • are not frivolous or vexatious
  • behave professionally.

Behaving professionally includes raising concerns in a respectful, courteous, constructive and factual manner and co-operating with review processes.

It does not include unreasonably labelling colleagues' behaviour as unethical or attributing unethical or dishonest motives to colleagues and managers.

What do you mean by ‘unclear procedures and timeframes for review’?

The process for applying for a review must be clear to employees.


Agency approaches differ...Comment


The employee applies to a senior manager within their reporting line.

Not all line managers are aware of their responsibilities in this field. Without support, issues may not be actioned appropriately.


Applications are lodged with the HR function.

A central point for applications is less confusing for employees. Some agencies establish appropriately named mailboxes, accessible through the intranet, for this purpose.

Adopting and publishing indicative timeframes for responding to and completing reviews assures employees their agency is committed to resolving their concerns quickly (Regulation 5.33).

What do you mean by ‘the employment relationship as a review proceeds’?

Effective relationship management serves two purposes, it:

  1. assures employees their concerns are being dealt with fairly and professionally, building trust
  2. makes review processes more efficient by reducing progress inquiries.

Effective relationship management with employees through reviews have positive long term implications for employment relationships.

The 'how' of a review is as important as the 'what'.

Central to this is personal contact between reviewers and review applicants.

Many review applicants feel the need to tell their story to an impartial person.

Some review applicants inform the Merit Protection Commissioner that it was not until applying for secondary reviews that someone listened to them. While this may be only a perception, it highlights the importance of managing the employee's experience of their review.

Typically there are three important stages during the review process. Engaging effectively with review applicants these stages helps manage perceptions. These are:

  • the discussion at the start of the review
  • updates provided during the review process
  • the discussion at the end of the review.