Performance and Development Review


Answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the PDR process


What does PDR stand for?

PDR is short for Performance and Development Review. Other organisations use different terminology, such as, annual appraisal.

Why do the PDRs have to take place within a defined time frame?

Having one window in which everyone completes PDRs makes gathering valuable feedback and information, such as development needs at an organisational level a lot more efficient. The timing of the window has been set to align as closely as possible with Reward Review and the annual budgeting process.

I have two different positions/ jobs, therefore do I have two PDRs?

If you have more than one position/ job, it may be appropriate to have two separate PDRs.  This is recommended where the positions are very different from one another.

However, where the roles are similar or with some degree of overlap it may be more practical to have one PDR.  This could potentially involve one manager feeding information into another PDR discussion, or alternatively it may be more appropriate to have both managers present for all or part of the PDR discussion. This can be agreed between yourself and the relevant line managers.

What should I or my reviewees do before the PDR meeting?

Everyone should take time before their PDR to prepare. This will include thinking  and possibly noting down things that you are proud of, things that have gone particularly well, as well as things that didn't go as well as you had hoped and any challenges or issues you have faced in the past year. You should consider how well you think you have performed overall and have examples of why you believe you have been working at that level.

Academics should review the metrics that have been collated for them, check they agree with the data and make comments about the information.

Everyone is encouraged to think about what objectives they feel would be relevant and fair for them to be set for the forthcoming year (may be longer in the case of academics). Also you should give consideration to what development needs you might have to support you to achieve these objectives.

What if I don't want a PDR, can I refuse?

The PDR meeting is an opportunity once a year for you to get feedback on your performance, talk about your development needs, give feedback to your reviewer/line manager and talk about things that are relevant to you, such as your career opportunities, your personal well-being, your workloads etc.

This is not an optional process; it is seen as a very important part of being a member of staff here at Loughborough University. If you have concerns about having a PDR meeting then you need to raise your concerns with someone as soon as possible, as refusing to take part in the PDR meeting could impact on your ability to be rewarded and could in some cases result in disciplinary action.

I don't like the person selected to do my PDR, can I ask for someone else?

If your PDR reviewer is your line manager then you will have your PDR with that person. They are the one most suited and able to give your feedback on your performance and identify your development opportunities with you.

If your allocated reviewer is not your line manager (more likely to be the case for academic PDRs) and your feel strongly about not having a PDR with them then you can discuss this with your Dean, however, there would need to be clear and substantial reasons to change a reviewer once they have been allocated.

Performance ratings

Will there be caps on the number of staff assessed as excellent?

No there are no caps on the numbers of ‘excellent’ ratings that can be recommended. However, clearly there are budgetary considerations to the number of people that are awarded excellent awards as a result of being automatically considered for reward review, following their rating of excellent. The expectation is that as part of our strategy of “Building Excellence” that more staff will be “Excellent” over the course of time.

What happens if I don't agree with my rating?

If you don't agree with your rating then you should discuss this during your PDR, your comments can then be noted by your reviewer and taken into consideration when the senior reviewer group convene to analyse and moderate the outcomes across the School or Professional Service. The senior reviewer group analyse the overall outcomes from the PDRs (i.e. individuals’ performance ratings). They are responsible for assuring broad consistency across the individual reviewers in the School or Professional Service and challenging ratings. Where there is a case of an individual disagreeing with their rating the Dean or Director can share necessary information about this with senior reviewer group. The senior reviewer group recommend to the Dean or Director that the rating stays the same, is reduced further or is increased. The Dean or Director then make their final decision and feed this back to the reviewee (and original reviewer) as appropriate.

If I am still not happy with my Dean/Director's decision can I appeal to the Chief Operating Officer or Deputy Vice Chancellor?

There is not an appeals process and no further review process after your Dean or Director’s decision has been made. If you feel you have been unfairly treated you should follow the grievance process, details of which can be found on the HR website.

The exception to this is where the reviewee that disagrees with their rating is a member of the senior reviewer group. In this case the Chief Operating Officer or the Deputy Vice Chancellor would act as the moderator and review the process followed. Ultimately Human Resources Committee is the overall governing body which is responsible for ensuring broad consistency of the outcomes across the whole University.

How do the performance ratings link to my pay?

Your performance ratings don't directly link to your pay. However, if you are rated as “Excellent” in your PDR then you will automatically be considered for reward. If you are rated “Very Good” then your reviewer or line manager may decide to put you forward for a reward based on a particular part of your performance that was excellent. Neither of these routes mean that you automatically get a reward, simply that you go forward to the reward review process as applicable for your role. For more information see the HR web pages on reward.

If the reward review panel turn down someone who has been rated excellent for an excellence award, will they receive any feedback?

Yes, the panel will provide feedback to the Dean/Director or Head of Service, who will feed that back to the individual.

Academic staff are rated against four areas: Collegiality, Enterprise, Research and Teaching. Are all four equally weighted?

These are not weighted at all. The reviewer would be expected to look at the metrics, the objectives and consider the conversation in the PDR. Academic Schools will each have different priorities and this should be taken into consideration.

Reviewers and reviewees

Can my reviewer get feedback from other people I work with?

Yes we would encourage reviewers and reviewees to gather feedback from different, but relevant sources. This can help you to get more rounded feedback on your performance and possible future development needs. This should happen by joint agreement and both the reviewer and the reviewee should suggest names. This will be an open and transparent process.

It is not essential, but is highly recommended and as with all the metrics for PDR, it is the start of the PDR discussion. The discussion is recorded on the paperwork and the feedback remains between the reviewer and the reviewee. It can be particularly useful for those reviewees who feel their work is not well known or understood by a reviewer.

Can I ask my reviewees about sickness/attendance? Can I set an objective about this in the PDR or is this a different process altogether?

There is a sickness absence management policy within the University, see the HR website for details. However, whilst this is a separate process and you should follow this with assistance from your HR team, it is perfectly alright to talk about concerns with sickness or attendance during a PDR.

Best practice is that concerns like this should not be stored up for the annual PDR, however, it is perfectly acceptable to review conversations that have happened throughout the year concerning absence/attendance and review the situation at the time of the PDR. This could be to note that things have greatly improved, or that there are still ongoing concerns. Any objectives set in this area must link in with the sickness absence policy. It is important that absence from work is discussed as part of a PDR in terms of the challenges the absence has brought to the individual and the team and potential future objectives that need to be agreed.

As a reviewer, how can I set objectives if I’m not the reviewee’s line manager?

In your preparation for the PDR you should have a discussion with a sample of people that do work closely with the individual, be aware of their job description and also take time to read the preparation document they have completed.

During the PDR conversation you should ask the individual what objectives they think would be achievable for them in the coming 12 months (minimum) and these should be agreed with the individual not set for them.

As the discussions in the PDR are confidential can the Senior Review Group ask for further information from reviewer about the discussion?

The documentation needs to sufficient to explain the reasons why a particular outcome has been recommended. This documentation is then agreed with the reviewee and can therefore be shared with the Senior Review Group. The confidential discussion should not be relayed to the Senior Review Group.

How is the strategy fed down to reviewers in order for them to link these to reviewee’s objectives?

Each School or Professional Service is responsible for communicating their strategy through their implementation plans.


If a Research Assistant or Associate is given a rating of excellent and therefore goes forward for reward review they will they be disadvantaged because their research grant doesn't have the funds to reward them?

No, this should not be a reason for not recommending someone as excellent. Those people who have been performing at an excellent level should be recommended as “excellent” regardless of funding issues. If there is no funding available within the grant then it would come out of the School budget.

Training and development

What training and development am I entitled to?

As an organisation we have a responsibility to ensure you have the training and development you need in order to fulfil your role effectively. Your line manager or PDR Reviewer can agree with you what development would be appropriate. This is not always training courses; it could involve job shadowing, mentoring or coaching, working on projects etc.

There is not an entitlement to development that will lead to your career progression, however, where an individual shows motivation, commitment and ability to develop further in their role we are committed as an organisation to further developing our staff. This requires commitment from both reviewer and reviewee, however, to sustaining and improving performance in their role.

What tools are there to help me identify my development needs?

Your PDR conversation should be a chance to discuss your development needs as well as your performance levels. If as part of your role you are involved in leading people, projects or things across the organisation or externally, you are encouraged to complete the Loughborough Leadership Framework (LLF) online self-assessment.

This tool has been developed specifically for Loughborough University by working groups of academic and non-academic staff. The idea of the tool is that you answer the questions as honestly as possible, if a question isn’t applicable to your role then you answer that you do not currently do this in your role. You will then get a report which will give suggestions for development areas, based on the answers you have given. This can then be taken to your PDR so that you can discuss your development options with your reviewer.

You will need your University username and password

Who pays for development opportunities?

Schools and Departments will use their own budgets for specific individual development; however there is no additional charge for any development that is provided internally by Staff Development. It is important to identify development that is required across the organisation through the PDR process so that the training budget can be used to maximum effect.

How are individual’s development needs (identified in the PDR meetings) actioned?

It is the responsibility of the Reviewee, with support from the Reviewer, School or Professional Service to action and monitor progress of development objectives.


What if the end of my probation is very near the window for the annual PDR?

If this is the case then it is still expected that you would have a PDR, however, you would use any objectives set at your final probation review meeting as well as adding any others that might now be relevant. If your probation is completed just after the annual PDR window (January to end of March) then you can still have agreed objectives going forward. These would need to be recorded by you and your reviewer and these would then be assessed in your PDR the following year.

If someone finishes probation during the PDR window, would we advise they receive their first full PDR the following year?

Yes, they would have their first full PDR the following year as it would be difficult/potentially unfair to rate someone based on their first six months performance. They must be given clear objectives that will see them through until the next PDR though, so whilst there is no need to give them a rating they will need performance and development objectives agreed.

Recording PDR outcomes

Who can see the completed PDR documentation?

The Dean of your School or the Director of your Professional Service can also view your PDR documentation. The Dean or Director may need to share PDR documentation with the Senior Reviewer Group during the moderation process.  This may happen for example when; 

  • there is a disagreement either in ratings between a reviewer and reviewee
  • there is disagreement regarding an individual’s rating during the moderation process by the Senior Reviewer group
  • it is necessary to ensure the overall moderation process is fair and equitable across the School or Professional Service.

There may also be circumstances when the information may be required for formal processes such as grievance or disciplinary or capability and senior managers and HR colleagues may need to review PDR documentation.

Can Schools and Departments adapt or use their own documentation to record the PDR?

No, but you can feed back after the process any improvements they feel could be made.


What are the metrics being used for academic staff and they have these been chosen?

For academic staff information will be provided from existing university data. This information is there as a guide and will be available for you prior to your PDR. You are encouraged to review this information, add to it where applicable and add in more detail about and updates or challenges. The data cut-off date will be 31st December 2016, so it may well be that you have additional information to add in the commentary boxes if there are updates by the time you  have your PDR.

The citation and publication indicators have been chosen to enable you to have a conversation with your PDR reviewer about the outlets you are publishing in (% publications in the top 25% of journals by SNIP), who you are collaborating with (% publications with an international co-author) and the citedness of your publications (% publications in top 25% most cited in your field). These are all areas we know we need to improve on as an institution and are used externally as indicators of research performance, however, some indicators are more relevant to certain disciplines than others. Comments boxes are provided for you to add commentary on the indicators provided.

The publication details above are metadata fields held in LUPIN and used for reporting purposes internally and externally, including REF. (Any queries/concerns about these specific fields being used should be referred to

Academic Leadership Team, Directors and the Senior Review Group

What’s going to be in the Summary Report’s written by Deans and Directors?

These reports in the pilot were a summary of the number of PDRs that had been carried out and reasons for any that had not been carried out. There was a summary of the overall ratings for the School or Professional Service as a whole. Any issues or challenges encountered with the PDR process itself were noted and recommendations for improvement of the process, as well as a summary of overall development requirements that need to be considered at University level.

These reports are intended to capture the overall picture for a School or Professional service.  During the pilot the report included;

  • How many PDRs have been completed
  • Reasons for any that have not been completed
  • A summary of the overall ratings for the School or Professional Service as a whole
  • Any issues or challenges encountered with the PDR process itself were noted and recommendations for improvement of the process
  • A summary of overall development requirements that need to be considered at University level

As the discussions in the PDR are confidential can the Senior Review Group ask for further information from reviewer about the discussion?

The documentation needs to sufficient to explain the reasons why a particular outcome has been recommended. This documentation is then agreed with the reviewee and can therefore be shared with the Senior Review Group. The confidential discussion should not be relayed to the Senior Review Group.