Personal development and review guidelines

What is a PDR?

The University’s personal development and review scheme working alongside team meetings and 1:1s is designed to provide a strong management structure offering dedicated time throughout the year for staff to focus on their job/career progress and their future personal and professional development needs.

The scheme aims to:

  • Review performance against past years work objectives
  • Provide a framework to discuss achievements and development needs
  • Provide an opportunity for constructive discussion of your job and career aspirations, taking account of your personal interests and the objectives of your faculty or directorate
  • Provide an opportunity to discuss workload and work-life balance
  • Identify clear job and development objectives and priorities, and how they can be achieved

This scheme applies to all staff, including fractional posts, except:

  • Hourly paid staff
  • Staff with less than six months service
  • Staff leaving within the next six months (other than by mutual agreement)
  • The review process is focused around the annual review meeting, which should take place between April and July. The value of the scheme comes from the quality of the discussion at the review meeting, and from the actions that result from it. The PDR form is designed to help you to plan for the meeting, to structure the meeting itself, and to keep a record of the agreed action points. An interim review of these actions points should take place between November and January; you may wish to review progress on a more frequent basis.

personal development cycle image

It is recommended that reviewers undertake six PDRs, but no more than nine in total. 

Completing the PDR form

Two versions of the PDR form exist. One is for general use; the other is specifically for academic staff and has additional prompts to document teaching and research development. These forms are available to download directly from the HR website.

Your reviewer should send you the local objectives for your Department at least 14 days before the review meeting date.

Section 1 Personal Reflection and assessment

Please use this section to reflect on your contribution to the University over the past year. Think about examples of things which went well, what tasks or activities presented particular challenges and where you think you would benefit from further training and personal development. The kind of topics you could cover in this section are:

  • Your contribution to enhancing the student experience
  • Teamwork (working together with colleagues)
  • Support given to others (eg colleagues, students, visitors)
  • Support received from line managers, colleagues etc.
  • Communication (written and spoken)
  • Self-organisation in both day-to-day activities and larger projects
  • Professional, technical and practical skills

1.1 Take some time to note down how successful you have been in achieving your work objectives over the past year (or six months if this is an interim review).  What factors contributed to your achievements and the associated activities.  Highlight your personal and professional aspirations, and consider the support for this that you have received from your line manager and other colleagues in the past year, and any additional support you might request for the coming year.

1.2 This section is to be completed by those who would welcome the opportunity to reflect on their contribution to enhancing the student experience, and have not covered this elsewhere in their pdr.

1.3 This section is to be completed only by those with leadership and/or management roles. If in doubt as to whether you should complete it, please consult your manager. Please use this section to reflect on your strengths as a leader/manager. Using the National Occupational Standards identify any areas where you wish to improve or extend knowledge, skills and behaviours to achieve the level required for your role within the standards. See more information about leadership and management capabilities. When completing this section you should also reflect on how effective have you been in leading/managing your team to achieve the objectives set for your team/section/department, and in supporting and developing the members of your team.

Section 2 Continuing personal and professional development

2.1 This section should be completed prior to the meeting and identify all development undertaken and outcomes since the last meeting, including sustainability issues or volunteering.

2.2 This section should also include any activities you have undertaken in relation to equal opportunities and diversity.

2.3 This section is to be completed by those involved in teaching or supporting learning and is in line with the Strategy for Enhancing the Student Experience (SESE) (link to .pdf doc)

Use the question prompts in this section to consider how you are developing your teaching into next year and beyond. This section should draw on evidence from formal and informal evaluation of your teaching by students, by peers (specifically through PETAL within your Department or Programme area) and should also build on ideas that have emerged from professional dialogue with colleagues.

2.4 This section is to be completed by those involved in research and knowledge transfer and the Research and Knowledge Transfer Strategy. Please use this section to reflect on your work not already covered above, using the question prompts to consider how you are developing your research into next year and beyond. In this section, state your research plans for the coming year and consider how you are increasing its impact. You are also asked to reflect on any international or inter-disciplinary dimensions in your activities.  Finally, you should identify support or development that would be helpful to you in taking forward these enhancements to your research or knowledge transfer profile.

Section 3 Career Development

This section should include comments on your future career, and the best forms of professional development and support that would enable you to achieve your goals.

Section 4 Reviewer’s comments and recommendations

This section should be completed during or after the meeting.  It should include the reviewer’s comments on the sections of the form completed by the reviewee, and any additional areas covered in the review meeting.

Section 5 Objectives for the coming year

This section identifies your work objectives for the coming year or agreed period, these should show a clear link to the strategic objectives of the Faculty or Directorate and the University.  Objectives should have a target completion date and should identify the output measure that is expected.

Section 6 Personal and professional development for the coming year

This section shall identify any personal or professional development that you would like to pursue during the coming year.  You should link this development to one or more of your identified areas of work, highlighting the identified benefits of the development and how you will evaluate the difference that the development makes to your performance.

Section 7 Date of interim review meeting

It is recommended that a date between November and January be put in the diary for the interim review.


Updated June 2015