The disruption caused by the pandemic, past and future, demands a careful approach to make the most out of the annual Staff Development and Performance Review. Nobody has been doing what they expected in the last six months, and nobody has a clear view of what even the next few months may hold. It is therefore of limited value to go back in detail over last year’s objectives, or to plan too specifically for the year ahead. Nevertheless, it is even more important than ever to take time to have a protected, purposeful conversation away from the day-to-day, to focus on the individual and their wellbeing, performance and development. The following guidance for managers should help you and your reviewees make sense of the past and plan for the future when you hold your annual review meetings.
- The form is not the purpose. The SDPR form offers a structure for a conversation, and enables record-keeping, but filling out the form is not the purpose of the SDPR and should not be the focus.
- A high quality conversation. Instead, focus on a high quality conversation that raises awareness of a reviewee’s successes, challenges, strengths and development needs.
- How are you? What’s happening now?. This is a chance to deepen your understanding of how the current situation is affecting your reviewee, and to explore what else might be needed to ensure they can perform their role and stay healthy. There are lots of resources around wellbeing and different ways of working, for example, that could help you with this: Plans for the 2020/21 academic year - Staff
- Review. Take time to reflect. Talk about what it was possible to achieve from last year’s objective list, but also focus on how people reacted to the disruption of the pandemic. Perhaps ask: “How did the crisis affect you and your plans for the year? What were you able to achieve, and how did you respond to new challenges and opportunities?” Give feedback about how people have been doing; what are the positive and successful behaviours you’ve noticed, and what could be improved or developed?
- Look ahead. What goals can you set, within the limits of uncertainty about the coming year? Planning for different scenarios may be helpful. It is helpful to set some concrete goals, but be sure to acknowledge that achieving some may depend on circumstances beyond your control.
- Development. What are the longer-term ambitions of the reviewee, and how can they be supported and aligned with the University’s needs? What new skills, knowledge or ways of working should be in the plan for the year ahead?
- Commitment. An SDPR form is not a letter to the University. It can only be a record of commitments made by the two people involved in the conversation, so set goals and objectives wisely according to the circumstances, and ensure that your reviewee, with your support, is committed to them.
- Record. The form enables you to capture the main thoughts and commitments from the conversation, as a way of focusing your though process and to have something to refer back to, but having “something to put on the form” does not prove that the meeting was a success. Aim for a rich and honest conversation that leaves people feeling valued and clear about how they can best have a fulfilling and successful year.
Some academic departments have adopted a different review format called Career Conversations but the guidance above applies whether you are using these or a traditional SDPR.
SDPR: purpose, frequency and key steps
The Staff Development and Performance Review (SDPR) is an opportunity for staff to:
- receive feedback on their performance
- discuss and set objectives for the coming year
- explore and support their learning needs and career aspirations
When and how often to hold an SDPR
All core (not casual) staff who have completed probation are required to undertake a SDPR annually, and Heads of Department are responsible for making sure this happens through their usual management structure.
Staff normally have their first SDPR around 6 months after completing probation, allowing them to reflect on objectives and development goals set in the end of probation review, but this interval may vary to fit the business cycle of the department.
Key steps for arranging and completing an SDPR
When arranging and completing an SDPR there are 6 keys steps you should follow:
- identify which job family your department is in and whether your department is using the Effective Behaviours Framework (EBF)
- identify and review the relevant SDPR forms for the reviewee's grade/job family, and complete in advance where necessary
- complete your relevant training
- conduct your SDPR meeting
- complete the SDPR forms to reflect your discussions
- upload the completed and signed forms to Manager Self Service
Using the correct SDPR forms
The forms you need to use for your SDPR will vary depending on your grade, job family and whether your Department is using the Effective Behaviours Framework (EBF).
|Reviewee's grade/job family||SDPR form|
|Staff in roles at grade 2 in all job families||SDPR grade 2 self-review form, SDPR grade 2 SDPR form and SDPR grade 2 manager review form|
|Staff in grade 3 and above in job families not yet using the EBF framework (e.g. Operational, Facilities Support (OFS), and Technical and Experimental (T&E))||SDPR form|
|Staff in the Management, Specialist and Administration (MSA) job family||SDPR+ form|
|Staff in grade 3 and above in the Education and Research job family||SDPR E&R form|
All forms and guidance can be downloaded from the following SDPR forms and guidance pages:
Completing the relevant training
If you are conducting an SDPR for the first time, you must complete the reviewer training beforehand.
If you are being reviewed for the first time you are encouraged to complete the reviewee training beforehand.
Course dates are detailed on the staff learning and development webpage:
- SDPR: Conducting an effective review (for reviewers - all staff)
- SDPR: Getting the most out of your review (for reviewees - all staff)
You can also self-enrol and complete the online course on Moodle called Staff Development and Performance Review (SDPR) at any time.
Uploading or viewing a completed SDPR form via MSS or ESS
Uploading an SDPR form
As a Manager you can record and upload SDPR forms for the people you directly line manage onto iTrent through Manager Self Service (MSS).
In academic departments the SDPR forms are usually logged by: - department coordinators for Lecturers, Senior Lecturers, Readers and Professors - line managers for research staff and teaching fellows
Viewing previously uploaded SDPR forms
Once your SDPR form has been uploaded to MSS you can view your own forms through Employee Self Service (ESS).
If you are a Manager and wish to see the SDPR forms for those people you line manage, you can view them via Manager Self Service (MSS).
Download instructions for uploading or viewing SDPR forms
Find out how to upload or view SDPR forms by downloading the instructions