Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The transition to PDR and Academic Progression is a positive move that has been made in response to the feedback gathered from our staff. It seeks to make the process less time consuming and more straightforward for staff, removing the focus on the form and instead prioritising ongoing conversations between staff in support of development.
Staff should be reassured that 2019/20 is a transition year and as such, we understand there will be some crossover as we move from old to new process. Staff will likely have many questions about the new process and how they may be impacted by the changes that have been made. See below for some Frequently Asked Questions that should answer your questions. If your question is not answered here, don't worry: you can access additional support here.
1. Why are we moving from Appraisal to PDR?
The results of the 2016 Staff Survey and subsequent feedback exercise carried out via the Staff Forum, clearly indicated that staff were not happy with the Appraisal process. You told us that Appraisal is administratively heavy, time-consuming, and also that you consider it not to deliver sufficient positive impact on job performance or career development. Feedback also suggested that there is a lack of cohesion and integration across the various career progression processes at Queen’s for our academic colleagues in particular (Confirmation in Post, Academic Progression and Professorial Salary Review).
This feedback was consistent across all areas of the University and, having listened to your views, the VC announced that Appraisal and the connected progression processes would be replaced by a new consolidated approach to support and develop our internal talent to perform at their best and progress their careers with us.
2. How has the new PDR process been created?
The Appraisal and Academic Career Pathway Group (AACPG) was established in January 2019, and was tasked with reviewing Appraisal and the connected processes, Confirmation in Post, Academic Progression and Professorial Salary Review. An associated Appraisal Sub-Group (ASG) was formed and tasked specifically with replacing the current Appraisal process.
The Staff Forum conducted a detailed feedback exercise with their teams in October 2018 to better understand the improvements to be made with Appraisal and the connected processes, and to gather suggestions about how a new process would work and what it should focus on. This feedback was collated and shared with the Groups. Further feedback was carried out with key stakeholders and senior managers across the University to inform the new process.
3. What is Personal Development Review (PDR)?
Personal Development Review (PDR) adopts a developmental approach to support our People First promise to “create opportunities to build the capability of our staff”.
PDR provides the framework for an ongoing conversation between Reviewer and Reviewee to review progress against previously agreed priorities; discuss future plans and career aspirations; co-create future priorities and development goals; and plan relevant and appropriate support.
The key to a successful PDR is the meaningful, ongoing conversation between Reviewer and Reviewee that leads to quality outcomes for the Reviewee, for example, improved effectiveness within current role and achievement of their development goals.
PDR enables Reviewees – with the appropriate support of their Reviewer – to take ownership for and drive forward their own career and development plans, and in turn, to contribute to Queen’s strategic priorities.
4. What is meant by Reviewee and Reviewer?
A Reviewee is an employee who engages in the PDR process with their Reviewer to agree their priorities, skills gaps, development, contribution and career aspirations. All Queen’s employees should take part in PDR, therefore all staff are Reviewees when taking part. A Reviewee is responsible for their own career and development.
A Reviewer is an employee who will engage in the PDR process with their Reviewees to agree priorities in line with the School/Directorate, agree skills gaps and actions to close, career development and review outputs.
5. How do I know who my Reviewer is?
For Professional Services staff, your Reviewer is normally your line manager (unless otherwise advised). For academic staff, your Reviewer may be your Head of School, however, in larger Schools the Head of School may delegate the Reviewer role to, for example, the Discipline Lead or more senior academic colleague.
If the Reviewee is unclear who their Reviewer is, they should contact their Head of School or line manager.
6. Do all staff take part in PDR?
Yes, PDR is for all fixed term and permanent staff at all levels. For academic staff, this includes those in their probationary period and Professors. Clinical Academics must continue to complete PDR in line with the Department of Health / Health and Social Care organisations requirements, but can use the University forms to reference additional contribution specific to their role at Queen’s.
7. How does PDR differ from Appraisal?
Unlike Appraisal, PDR focusses on continuous, ongoing conversations between Reviewer and Reviewee, enabling both to have a shared understanding of the Reviewee’s contribution, their developmental needs and their career aspirations. PDR is about fostering a positive working relationship between Reviewer and Reviewee, one based on mutual respect and understanding that ensures the Reviewee is empowered to take responsibility for their personal and career development in a way that aligns with local School/Directorate priorities as well as Queen’s strategic priorities, and with the full support of their Reviewer.
PDR should not be used as a means to manage poor performance and any substantive issues should not be raised for the first time through a PDR meeting. Where it is necessary to move into formal procedures, the University’s Capability and Disciplinary procedures will be used to help manage poor performance.
- 8. Do I still need to complete a form as part of PDR?
Yes, the PDR Form does need to be completed on an annual basis in order to have a record of Priorities and Development Goals, and may also be used to record anything arising from ongoing discussions between Reviewee and Reviewer throughout the Review Period.
However, PDR forms are much simpler and concise than before, with a word limit to ensure only key information is recorded. Documentation has been streamlined with just two newly-developed forms associated with PDR: one for Academic staff and one for Research and Professional Services staff. This change is a reflection of the different nature of the roles, with the Academic form aligning to the terminology of the newly created Academic Profiles.
While the PDR Form is a useful tool for guiding the Annual PDR conversation, it is important to remember regular, ongoing conversations between Reviewer and Reviewee throughout the Review Period are the single most important aspect of PDR.
Clinical Academics must continue to complete PDR in line with the Health and Social Care Trust requirements, but can use the University forms to reference additional contribution specific to their role at Queen’s.
- 9. I am a Researcher. What PDR form do I complete?
Researchers should complete the Research and Professional Support PDR Form. This is because criteria used in the Academic Form aligns with the terminology of the Academic Profiles and therefore does not apply to Researchers.
- 10. What has changed for Professional Services staff?
The review of Appraisal and Connected Processes has highlighted the need for more support for Professional Services staff in terms of their development and progression. To this end, a Professional Services Career Progression Working Group has been convened, chaired by the Registrar and Chief Operating Officer, Joanne Clague. You can view membership of the Working Group here.
This Group is currently developing an action plan which will include initiatives that can be delivered in the short term as well as longer term deliverables.
- 11. What has changed for Academic staff?
There are new Academic Profiles which are discipline specific and have been developed in consultation with staff. As such, the PDR documentation that Academic Reviewees complete differs slightly to that of Research and Professional Services staff in order to ensure priorities and developmental goals are aligned with the areas of academic activity detailed within the Academic Profiles: Research/Scholarship, Education and Citizenship.
Significant changes have been made to the Connected Processes that are applicable for academic staff only. These connected processes; Confirmation in Post, Academic Progression and Professorial Salary Review, are now aligned to PDR and contained within a single streamlined and integrated approach.
To ensure parity between the two main academic career pathways, Research & Education and Education only, a new Reader role has been created within the Education pathway.
The Academic CV has changed format, with information being derived directly from core Queen’s systems including Pure and QSIS. In order to complete the probation process or apply for progression, relevant additional information should be included in the individual’s Cover Letter.
Those on Academic Probation will now engage with the PDR process and will submit their cover letter and Academic CV annually to the School Committee for review on progress. This replaces the applicant statement that was submitted to the School Probation Committee annually. In addition, the Head of School will arrange for the Peer Observer and the Probation Summary report (completed by the Academic Reviewer) to QOL. Any salary increases as a result of Academic Progression will take effect on 1 August of the year in question.
- 12. What support is available for staff to help transition from Appraisal to PDR? (REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED)
Senior leaders within the University will be fully briefed on the new PDR process in advance of the launch on 4 November. Communication Packs will be shared with senior leaders to enable them to brief their teams once PDR launches.
PDR Information Stands will be available across the Campus during launch week, enabling all staff to attend and put questions to dedicated P&C staff. Guidance Booklets will be available for staff and new webpages will also go live on this day. These resources will contain all of the relevant information you need to carry out and/or participate in PDR.
A comprehensive learning and development programme will launch from the beginning of November to provide PDR Skills Sessions for Reviewers and Reviewees. This will then take place on an ongoing basis as part of the core L&D offer.
For academic colleagues, Academic Progression Briefing Sessions will be scheduled in each Faculty from mid-December 2019 until mid-January 2020 to support the smooth transition to the new approach which combines the connected processes in one annual progression cycle.
- 13. Is there an overall policy for PDR and where can I find it?
Yes, there is a Personal Development Review (PDR) policy and also an Academic Progression policy. Both will be available for all staff from 4 November 2019.
- 14. I haven’t had a PDR yet, what do I do?
It is important to have an Annual PDR Meeting with your Reviewer, so contact your Reviewer and arrange a meeting as soon as is feasible. If you don’t know who your Reviewer is contact your line manager or Head of School. You should also prepare in advance of this meeting, by reviewing the PDR Guidance and downloading the relevant PDR form (available from 4 November).
- 15. I’m applying for Academic Progression, when do I need to complete my PDR?
It’s a requirement for anyone applying for Academic Progression (including all probationers) to have completed their PDR prior to submitting an application. If you haven’t already had your PDR, you should reach out to your Reviewer and arrange your Annual PDR Meeting prior to the 31 January 2020 (the closing date for Academic Progression applications). If you don’t know who your Reviewer is contact your Head of School. You should also prepare in advance of this meeting, by reviewing the by reviewing the PDR Guidance and downloading the relevant PDR form (available from 4 November).
- 16. I’ve had my PDR for 2018/19 but used the old Appraisal form, what do I do?
You just need to transfer the agreed Priorities (Objectives on the Appraisal form) and Development Goals (Development Needs on the Appraisal form) to a new PDR form (available from 4 November). You can then use this form next year to record your progress against the Priorities and Development Goals in preparation for your Annual PDR Meeting.
- 17. I’ve had my PDR for 2018/19 but used the interim PDR form, what do I do?
You just need to transfer the agreed Priorities and Development Goals to a new form (available from 4 November). You can then use this form next year to record your progress against the Priorities and Development Goals in preparation for your Annual PDR Meeting.
- 18.How do I record the outcome from ongoing PDR conversations?
The PDR form can be used as a live document, and updated as necessary throughout the year.
- 19.I want to apply for Progression but my Academic CV is incorrect due to the wrong information within Pure/QSIS etc. How do I update this information?
To update information on Pure you will need to access it and make the necessary amendments. For information sourced from other core systems you will need to contact the relevant data holder – please see the Academic Progression Guidance for further information.
- 20. I am applying for Academic Progression but don’t believe there’s enough room in the Cover Letter to present my case. How do I know what to include?
- 21. I am applying for Academic Progression. I’m no longer able to add commentary to the Academic CV and want to include a breakdown of the number of students I teach. How can this be added to my application?
You should include this information in your Cover Letter. For further information, please see the Academic Progression Guidance.
- 22. I’m a Probationer who has joined Queen’s within the last 12 months. I think I am ready for Progression – when is the earliest I can apply?
As a Probationer, you will be required to submit a Cover Letter and Academic CV annually for review by the School Academic Progression Committee, the Committee will then determine if you ready to pass probation. Probationers will only be required to submit a Cover Letter and Academic CV after three months in service.
- 23. I’m a Probationer who has joined Queen’s within the last few months, do I need to submit my Cover Letter and Academic CV when the Academic Progression Process opens in December 2019?
If you have at least three months service when the scheme opens on the 9 December this year, you will be required to submit your Cover Letter and Academic CV.
- 24. I am a Clinical Academic – how do these changes affect me?
Clinical Academics must continue to complete appraisal in line with the Department of Health / Health and Social Care organisations requirements. A revised form appropriate to Queen's new PDR process will be issued by the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences to Clinical Academics in advance of the 2020 appraisal cycle.
- 25. As decisions for Confirmation in Post are now being made by School Academic Progression Committees, will Probationers be informed of the outcome of these decisions more quickly than others applying for more senior progression?
Final outcomes will be communicated to staff following each committee stage.
- 26. I’m a PDR Reviewer for an academic who is applying for progression, who do I send the PDR Summary report to?
All PDR Summary reports should be sent to the School Manager, who will arrange for this to be disseminated to the relevant committee, either via QOL or via soft copy.
- 27. I’m preparing my Cover Letter and Academic CV, should I include projected REF scores?
No. As the selection of outputs takes place at unit-level, rather than per individual staff member, it is not appropriate for Committees to assess this information during the Academic Progression process.
- 8. Do I still need to complete a form as part of PDR?