Personal development review principles

Principles for the introduction of personal development review for university support and academic-related staff

These principles were adopted by the University's Personnel Committee in 2007.

    1. All departments will have in place a scheme for personal and career development review that aims to integrate support for individuals with the achievement of departmental objectives. Departments will be expected to make appropriate arrangements for consultation at the local level on the development of such schemes.
    2. All academic-related and support staff within a department will normally be expected to participate in the departmental scheme. There will be a further central consultation on the introduction of appropriate arrangements for academic staff, based on these principles.
    3. The scheme will be based on an annual discussion that is integrated with existing staff management processes and is part of a continuing dialogue between individuals and their line manager or supervisor.
    4. All schemes will adopt the minimum of paperwork that is consistent with safe record-keeping and good staff management practice. The Learning Institute will provide central templates for the processes and paper-work associated with the scheme, that departments can adopt locally.
    5. There will be no direct link between the review process and probation, salary, promotion, or discipline, for which separate procedures exist. If, however, the review indicates that performance has been exceptional, or that the job has grown significantly, information from the discussion can be used with the consent of the individual to inform the separate procedures for merit reviews or re-grading. The Learning Institute and Personnel Services will provide guidance to departments, and training for departmental administrators, on how to coordinate Personal Development Review with other local staff management processes.
    6. The Learning Institute and Personnel Services will consider how local schemes can best be monitored with a light touch, to ensure consistency of treatment between individual members of staff.
    7. Schemes will incorporate an element of self-evaluation. Individuals will be responsible for an initial assessment of their own performance against agreed objectives and for suggesting any areas for future development, including opportunities to pursue life-long learning. Appropriate feedback on performance will be provided by the individual’s agreed reviewer. This will usually be their line manager or supervisor.
    8. It is expected that all schemes will be based on the following framework, and that departments will make only minor adjustments to this framework where this is necessary to tailor it to the local context.


    • Individuals will prepare for the annual review discussion by reflecting on their progress against agreed objectives/core areas of work for the previous year; considering whether their job description accurately reflects the requirements of the role; proposing draft objectives for the forthcoming year; and suggesting any associated training and development needs. It is recognized that not all members of support staff will have individual objectives specific to their role.
    • Individuals, and their line managers/supervisors, will share their reflections on these issues in advance of the discussion (either in writing or orally), to enable both parties to reflect on the issues raised and to prepare adequately for the discussion.
    • The annual discussion will cover:
      • a review of progress towards the individual’s objectives for the previous year [or, in the first year of operation of the scheme, or where individual objectives are not appropriate, a review of key activities undertaken]
      • a review of the core areas of the individual’s current role and responsibilities and how these are being interpreted
      • discussion of successes in achieving objectives, or undertaking activities, over the past year
      • the identification of any barriers to the achievement of objectives or activities and possible remedies
      • agreement of appropriate objectives or activities for the following year, linked as relevant to departmental plans and the University’s Strategic Plan
      • consideration of the individual’s immediate development needs, including training, and other support requirements; and the effectiveness of any training or development carried out over the previous review period
      • with the agreement of the individual, discussion of longer-term career development, including any support required and any opportunities for life-long learning
    • Departments will make locally appropriate arrangements, based on guidance and templates provided by the Learning Institute, for:
      • individuals and their reviewers to agree a record of the discussion, with a presumption that the record will be held on the individual’s personal file
      • collating and acting on agreed training and development needs arising from the annual review discussions, including mechanisms to ensure that common themes and training needs emerging from review discussions are picked up and acted on
      • regular review of other individual or collective actions identified by the annual review process; and for integration of the review process with existing staff management procedures.