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Guidance for Reviewees

Your benefits and responsibilities in the process

The University has adopted a PDR scheme in order to provide every reviewee with the opportunity to:

  • Take time out to discuss their role and development, career aspirations and appropriate support required
  • Review how their development has supported their contribution and impact
  • Discuss their achievements and contributions
  • Connect individual goals and aspirations for the coming year to the aims of the department and the wider University
  • Have a record of the conversation and a personal development plan


  • Allow yourself sufficient time to prepare for your PDR, meeting the specified PDR timeframes, wherever possible
  • Ensure you complete the necessary parts of the documentation before your meeting, and send to your reviewer one week prior to your meeting
  • Be prepared to have a two way conversation
  • State your views constructively and put forward your own suggestions
  • Ask questions if you are not clear about something
  • Be prepared to listen to constructive feedback
  • Reflect on your achievements and contributions from the previous review period and consider any particular things that might have hindered you during the review period
  • Give thought to the work goals you think are appropriate or would like to achieve for the coming year (or appropriate time frame) – what help do you need to achieve these goals or aspirations?
  • Think about any development or support you might need to help you, either in your current role or for any future role. What support will be the most appropriate and practical for you? Think about a range of development options available to support you
  • Identify how your reviewer could help you achieve your goals, aspirations and development needs.

The PDR process flowchart (PDF Document) may help your understanding.

Techniques to enable an effective PDR conversation

Ensuring that conversations are constructive

Reviewees who have taken part in PDR briefings report that a PDR conversation is more likely to be productive when you:

  • Ensure you read the relevant parts of the form returned to you by your reviewer, so that you know what they wish to discuss in the meeting
  • Be prepared to discuss your development, achievements and contributions to focus the conversation
  • Are ready to listen as well as offer information, ideas and solutions. This is a two way conversation that should result in a plan agreed by both parties
  • Seek clarification of anything you are unsure of
  • Adopt a joint problem-solving approach where needed

Effective listening

Listening is a vital skill involved in effective 1:1 conversations.

Experienced reviewers/reviewees typically define the essential pre-requisites of an effective listening conversation as follows:

  • Choosing an appropriate venue for the discussion
  • Not allowing outside interruptions
  • Giving the meeting your full attention
  • Allocating an appropriate amount of time
  • Being open to what is being said

Listening is not simply about being silent and allowing the other person to reflect and talk in their own time. Effective conversations occur where both parties are engaged and responsive.

Techniques to enable this include:

  • Testing our understanding of what has been said by asking clarifying questions
  • Giving or receiving feedback
  • Summarising what has been said and the point which the conversation has reached
  • Developing an idea or suggestion in collaboration with the reviewee

How to handle difficult conversations

Prior to the meeting, it is important that both parties have agreed the agenda for the discussion. This will help to ensure that there are ‘no surprises’ raised during the meeting.

If you anticipate that there might be any ‘difficult’ aspect to your conversation, it is important that you address this prior to the meeting by speaking to an experienced colleague or to your HR Adviser on how to handle the situation.

You might also find it useful to visit the LDC website to access appropriate support

How to plan and draft goals and objectives

Note: academic staff should refer to the relevant PDR forms for examples relating to their specific areas of focus

Drafting goals is a core element of the PDR scheme. Goals are developed and agreed so that the reviewer and the reviewee have a shared understanding of the key focus of work and results which need to be achieved moving forward.

Goals must be appropriate to the grade and role of the reviewee and should be set in the context of the aims of the department and the wider University.

Individuals may also wish to consider how they will achieve their goals in a way that contributes to creating an environment of dignity, respect and inclusivity. The recent work around Respect at Warwick outlines 8 simple actions we each can take to contribute to creating this environment, They are also listed here:

  • Start with the basics – a simple hello or acknowledgement goes a long way
  • Remember we are all different - take time to learn about another person’s perspective
  • Be self-aware - think about how you interact, how you come across and consider how your unconscious biases may affect your behaviour
  • Develop your communication skills – do you really listen / do you challenge in a respectful way?
  • Discuss what respect means in your place of work
  • Take time to connect with and support others across the community – you might be surprised what you learn
  • Intervene early – if you see something that doesn’t seem right take action, don’t let your silence condone inappropriate behaviour
  • Lead with respect – remember as the leader you set the tone for your department

An individual may typically have between four and seven core goals. Any larger goals can be split in to sub-goals if that is useful. Effective goals should be written positively and should concentrate on the outcome or result you are seeking.

SMART is a well known model used to capture effective goals and stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable/Agreed
  • Realistic
  • Time bound.

SMART goals:

  • Are consistent with the aims of the department and wider University
  • Are expressed in positive language
  • Start with an action to ensure they are focussed on something that can be subsequently measured (e.g. complete, publish, investigate, propose, revise, plan, install, design, develop, produce)

Defining goals

When starting to plan your goals, you may find it helpful to consider these questions:

  • What is the overall purpose of your role?
  • What are the main areas of work or tasks that you perform at the moment?
  • Is this the same as you will be doing in the future?
  • If not, why not and what will you be doing that is different next year?
  • How should this work be done?
  • Are there any defined standards that are set?
  • If not, what standards would you set?
  • What are you expected to produce as outputs or outcomes in your role?
  • What support do you need to do this?
  • What knowledge, skills and behaviours do you need to do this work?
  • What development needs do you have in your current role?
  • What knowledge, skills and behaviours will you need for your future role if this will change?
  • What development needs or career aspirations do you have that will enable you to apply for promotion or a new role?
  • When will I be able to achieve and /or measure achievement against the goal or do I need shorter milestones?

Some examples of SMART goals have been written by staff working in a range of roles. These can be found on p12-14 of the PDR 'How To' guide (PDF Document)

Planning your development needs

What is a development need?

This may be a gap in someone’s skills or experience, or areas that could be further developed to support the individual in achieving their work goals, improve their contribution and/or to fulfil their potential and career aspirations. In addition, it could be due to a future change or development in their area of work, and they need to gain the skill or knowledge on order to meet the future need.

There are finite resources and it is unlikely that every development opportunity requested will be fulfilled. Reviewers therefore have a responsibility to:

  • Understand the skills and expertise needed by reviewees and teams to achieve departmental priorities and key objectives
  • Identify any skills and experience gaps that are essential to enable and support individuals to carry out their roles effectively, now and in the future
  • Write a SMART goal for the development need in order to ensure clarity
  • Think about the full range of development methods available to support individuals which might include: on-job training, eLearning, DVDs, CDs, coaching, mentoring, peer observation, forums, conferences, job shadowing, reading, involvement in a project, secondments, as well as formal training workshops
  • Discuss the above with reviewees to identify the most appropriate methods of support for that person
  • Choose the most appropriate and effective development method(s), considering the best ‘value for money’
  • Prioritise development that is critical to the achievement of agreed goals

Whose responsibility is it to make development opportunities happen?

It is important that reviewees own their development plans, take responsibility for making development happen, and for reporting back on the outcomes of their development.

It is the reviewer’s responsibility to ensure that individuals:

  • Are given the support and appropriate resources to access agreed development
  • Review and report on its effectiveness
  • Use what they have learned to enhance their contribution in their role

Planning your development

If you need further support around planning and meeting your development needs, this section may help you.

Why is development important?

Whether you need to take on new challenges, keep on top of developments in your field, plan your career progression or enhance your profile, undertaking development can help. By ensuring you have the right balance of knowledge, skills and behaviours, you can achieve your goals. Warwick is committed to supporting the development of its employees.

For further support on identifying development needs, please see p16-20 of the PDR 'How To' guide (PDF Document)

Video highlighting the key points about PDR

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