Answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the PDR process
New Frequently Asked Questions
A change to the reporting manager on iTrent, does not automatically update the PDR system. PDR system Administrators will need to go into the PDR system and allocate reviewers.
The main focus of the PDR should be self-reflection and the conversation between the reviewer and reviewee. The preparation form only needs to include enough information for the reviewer to prepare for the meeting. It does not need to take days to complete and it is fine to use bullet points or summaries. For Academic members of staff, the metrics already provide a lot of detail so there shouldn't be a need for lots of further preparation.
PDR is short for Performance and Development Review. Other organisations use different terminology, such as, annual appraisal.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Reviewers and reviewees
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.
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 be 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.
Each School or Professional Service is responsible for communicating their strategy through their implementation plans.
Training and development
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.
Your PDR conversation should be a chance to discuss your development needs as well as your performance levels.
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 Organisational 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.
It is the responsibility of the Reviewee, with support from the Reviewer, School or Professional Service to action and monitor progress of development objectives.
Members of staff on probation do not have a PDR. However, anyone on Professional Service Probation who started before the 1st October 2021 and successfully completes their probation between Jan 1st 2022 and 31st March 2022 will agree objectives for the following year, and receive a performance assessment rating, making them eligible for the excellence rewards process. This is to be recorded on the online PDR system, after the final probation meeting.
Anyone completing their probation after the PDR window will need to have objectives set upon successful completion. These will be used in the 2022 PDR.
Staff on academic probation will not be required to have a PDR as such. Instead, they will be expected to comply with the requirements of academic probation, which involves having four formal progress meetings each year. One progress meeting should therefore take place during the January – March PDR window and be used to review performance in the preceding year. If they have been employed prior to 1st October, they should be given a recommended performance rating as part of this meeting, this will then be considered by the senior reviewer group.
No, you will either use the online academic probation system, or continue with the paper based forms you have been using. This is dependant on your probation start date, as detailed below.
When did you start your academic probation?
I started my Academic Probation on or after 1st July 2017
You will use the Academic Probation online system to record your quarterly Academic Probation review meetings and not the paper based forms. One of your review meetings should be scheduled between January – March. Your Academic Probation Adviser will also use this meeting to review your progress and performance so far. Your probation adviser will recommend a performance rating of Exceeds Expectations, Meets Expectations or Does Not Meet Expectations. Colleagues receiving a recommended rating of Exceeds Expectations, which is subsequently reviewed and agreed by the PDR Senior Review Group (SRG), may be eligible for an excellence reward.
I started my Academic Probation on or before 1st July 2017
You will continue to record your Academic Probationer review meetings using the paper based forms as you have been doing previously. One of your review meetings should be scheduled between January – March. In this meeting you will be able to review your progress and performance over the past year and your Academic Probation Adviser will recommend a performance rating of Exceeds Expectations, Meets Expectations, Does Not Meet Expectations. This recommended rating will be recorded on a spreadsheet for submission to the Senior Review Group. Colleagues receiving a recommended rating of Exceeds Expectations, which is subsequently reviewed and agreed by the PDR Senior Review Group, may be eligible for an excellence reward.
Recording PDR outcomes
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.
No, but you can feed back after the process any improvements they feel could be made.
For the 2020 PDR, publication data will once again be supplied from SciVal for staff in all Schools except those formerly in the School of AED. This year, data will include the immediate past year, i.e. 2014-2020 in response to requests from academics, however, it must be noted that the 2020 data will not be complete as it was extracted from SciVal in November 2020. Also, any citation information will be unreliable for 2020 as citations take a long time to accrue. This year we are also very much aware of the impacts of COVID-19 on researchers' ability to publish. The publication data is provided to support a conversation between you and your reviewer around your publication strategy. You are encouraged to review the data, and to supplement it using the free-text box, with comment and additional evidence as to the visibility and impact of your outputs. Any questions about this data can be forwarded to email@example.com
Academic Leadership Team, Directors and the Senior Review Group
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.
PDR Online System
Your work will save automatically. When work has not saved, a message will appear to alert you of this. If you suspect that your work may not have saved it is recommended that you copy and paste it into a word document and save this somewhere confidential.
All instances where work is not being saved should be reported to IT Services, along with a screenshot where possible.
In line with our Responsible Metrics Statement, all Schools get to choose the publication indicators relevant to their discipline areas. The publication and citation practices in Art, English and Drama are such that SciVal data doesn't provide a meaningful picture of the visibility of their publications. For example, they publish a lot of non-journal outputs (monographs and practice-based outputs) that are not indexed by SciVal. Also, citation volumes in these disciplines are low and often not a proxy for quality. It was therefore agreed that SciVal publication visibility data would not be automatically supplied to staff in the School of Art, English and Drama. However, staff in the School are welcome to check their own data on SciVal and to provide other evidence in the comments box, as to the visibility and impact of their research outputs.
SciVal indexes about 22,000 journals but there are approximately 300,000 journals worldwide (not all of them scholarly). Whilst SciVal would claim to index only the highest quality titles, some discipline areas are covered better than others. If your publication is not indexed, you might be able to find some visibility data from other sources (Google Scholar, altimetric, Institutional Repository views and downloads) and put these in the comments box. Going forward, you can ask the Editor of your journal or conference to recommend their title for inclusion in Scopus/SciVal.
Please check the source system (e.g. LUPIN for publications, myHR for training) and ensure the data is correct there. If any corrections need to be made you will need to wait 24 hours before they show in the PDR. If the data is still not correct in the PDR please use the ‘Help’ link in the top right of the page, which will direct your query to the right person.
The form saves automatically regularly, and when it does so you will see a small disk icon with ‘saved’ and the time appear at the top right corner of the box you are typing in. If the save fails a red message will display here to inform you, if you see this please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
To print the whole document please use the print link in your PDR form. This is located above the purple box on the right which gives your PDR status (e.g. Initial Preparation).
Unfortunately, we couldn’t implement both the formatting (bullet points, links, box/italic) and resizing of the text box for this year. We plan to have another look at the problem next year.
I’ve been promoted in the last year, but my objectives aren’t pulling through from the PDR I did last year. Why?
The PDR system is designed on a contract/role rather than person basis, and the reason everything isn't pulling through is because you are completing your PDR against a different role this year to last. It's really difficult for a computer to tell whether or not two contracts are related and should be linked (e.g. someone working part-time in the library might also have a job as a researcher two days a week and those contracts are completely unrelated - it wouldn't be appropriate for a line manager from one to be able to view the content of another and the objectives would be completely different). We are going to try and think of things we could do to help with this for the future but unfortunately it is a big job. For now, you could put in your current PDR to refer to your previous years PDR for objectives, publications etc rather than copy it all out again. You may also need to print a copy of your previous years PDR to PDF to give you your reviewer to refer to, as they won't be able to see it online.