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Personal Development Review (PDR) - frequently asked questions

The ongoing conversations between reviewees and reviewers form a crucial part of working at Warwick, and we've put together some FAQs to help you get the most from your PDR.

Click on a question below to jump to the relevant answer:
What is PDR?

Our Personal Development Review (PDR) framework is designed to support staff by encouraging positive, constructive and supportive conversations between an individual and their line manager or reviewer. The conversation should provide a ‘look back’, allowing staff to capture and reflect on their achievements, contributions and development during the period under review; and a 'look forward' to agree future goals and any development or support required. The University’s values and behaviours provide a helpful framework for staff to reflect on in terms of the approaches that help us to be at our best and to deliver effectively on the refreshed strategy, thus enabling Warwick and its people to thrive. 

What are the benefits of PDR?

It is anticipated that PDR will benefit both reviewees and reviewers who engage with the process, as well as bringing value to the organisation.

The PDR conversation with your line manager or reviewer is a valuable and ideal opportunity to:  

  • Recognise your achievements over the past year and how your contributions are supporting Warwick’s strategic goals 
  • Review how any development undertaken has supported your contributions and impact 
  • Look forward together and connect individual goals and aspirations for the coming year with the aims of the team, department, and the wider University 
  • Identify potential development opportunities that will further equip you to deliver, both now and in the future 
  • Discuss career plans if you wish
Who should complete a PDR?

All staff are expected to engage with a PDR, including Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs), and agency workers with more than twelve weeks’ employment. There are limited exceptions, and you can find details of these in the How To guide which can be found on the main PDR webpage.

Please note that completion of a PDR by 31st July 2024 is a prerequisite of eligibility for a contribution award.

When should I have a PDR conversation?

It is anticipated that conversations around goals, development, and career plans will take place on a regular basis throughout the year as part of good and normal working practice. A PDR conversation should take place during the summer of each calendar year as a minimum requirement. 

The PDR window for the 2023-24 cycle is 22nd May to 31st July 2024. Within this window, it is expected that all PDR conversations will take place between reviewees and reviewers. On occasion, you may choose to hold two conversations that separate the retrospective and forward-looking parts of the form and conversation.  

It may be necessary to consider working patterns and make arrangements for PDR meetings locally, such as ensuring that PDRs are conducted with term-time only staff before the summer break. 

Which form should I use?

Two PDR forms are available, with different versions designed to most appropriately reflect the nature of roles and contexts for staff on academic contracts and staff in Professional Services roles and CCSG. These can be downloaded from the main PDR webpageLink opens in a new window.

How does PDR work?

The reviewer and reviewee will agree a time to meet for their PDR conversation between 22 May and 31 July 2024. This is typically a 60 to 90 minute conversation, and suitable arrangements should be made by the reviewer for this meeting, such as booking a room.

Ahead of the meeting, the reviewee completes their sections of the relevant PDR form in preparation for the conversation, and shares the form with their reviewer at least a week before the meeting. The reviewer reflects on the reviewee's comments, prepares for a discussion around previous and future goals and development, and career plans, and completes their section. Occasionally, input to the form may be sought from others with whom the reviewee works closely. This form is then shared with the reviewee just before the meeting.

The conversation is then held, lasting typically 60 to 90 minutes.

Any updates to the form are made by the reviewee, and once it is finalised and agreed, both parties sign the form to confirm it.

There may be local variation on the approach to PDR depending on operational and departmental needs, which may include the central collation of PDRs within a department, and the sharing of a collated anonymised summary of departmental development needs with HR. 

How does PDR work in the context of Warwick Transformation?

For some teams and areas, the window for PDR 2023-24 may coincide with phases of Warwick Transformation. The below guidance provides a suggested approach for engagement with PDR during this time. As it is important to ensure that colleagues feel supported, you may wish to flex this guidance slightly and apply agreed alternative local arrangements.  

For colleagues during transformation or periods of change

This may include staff working in departments or roles which are not within the scope of the Warwick Transformation programme. It may also include areas which are not due to commence any Warwick Transformation activity until after the PDR window has closed.

In these circumstances, it is recommended that you engage with PDR as usual.

Staff are encouraged to engage with PDR as usual.  

However, there may be the need to adjust and flex the approach taken in response to the emergent situation. For example, colleagues may be undergoing consultation partway through the PDR.

During consultation 

Colleagues who are undergoing formal consultation processes at any point during the PDR window are encouraged to complete the review of the previous year in line with the usual ‘look-back’ in the PDR that acknowledges key achievements and wider contributions. When reflecting on progress against goals and the year under review, it may be particularly useful to also support reviewees with identifying skills and strengths in readiness for future role or team developments.

Rather than setting formal or long-term goals for the upcoming year, a light-touch discussion of immediate work priorities for the coming weeks and months is recommended to ensure that core business-as-usual activity is maintained and the employee has the support they need to complete this. These interim goals may be appropriate until such time as a post-consultation phase is anticipated to commence.

You may also wish to discuss any development needs or support that might be helpful in the short-term, such as interview skills or receiving coaching through transition/change.

Post-consultation 

The retrospective part of the PDR conversation should be completed in order to review goals, achievements, and development. The ‘look-back’ part may require input from more than one reviewer, depending on whether the reviewee has moved roles or line reporting structures as part of Warwick Transformation.

As the future state becomes clearer, it may be possible to hold the forward-looking part of the PDR conversation and to set goals. These may be short-term or interim goals whilst colleagues and teams transition to the future state. Also consider development needs for the transition period.

You may wish to schedule further meetings beyond the PDR window to identify longer-term goals and development needs once the transition period draws to a close and the future state is more embedded.

 

What should I talk about in the 'look back' part of my PDR?

In any reflective conversation, people might typically look back on their key achievements and contributions during the last year, and take the opportunity to discuss any particular challenges they might have encountered.

What should I talk about in the 'look forward' part of my PDR?

In the ‘look forward’ part of a conversation, the reviewee and reviewer will typically focus the discussion on what needs to be worked on in the future. An individual's goals should align with the work of their team or department, or the wider University in terms of its strategic aimsLink opens in a new window. You may also like to discuss and consider how the University’s values and behavioursLink opens in a new window may be helpful in the approach to be taken. The reviewee might wish to discuss career plans and the kind of support they may need in relation to this.

The most important thing about the PDR is that reviewee and reviewer have quality conversations throughout the year.

How does PDR relate to the contribution award?

For 2023-24, completion of a PDR by 31st July 2024 is a requirement for those who wish to be considered for a contribution award. Heads of Department will need to be aware whether PDR forms have been completed and completion data will be collected and returned to the Reward team, but the content of the forms does not need to be shared for this purpose. More information about the contribution award can be found on the Reward webpages.

What resources are available to help me?

There are a number of resources available to support with PDR:  

I have another question – who can I contact ?

If you have any specific questions about PDR, please speak to your line manager or HR Business Partner in the first instance, or contact LMD@warwick.ac.uk.