Going step-by-step through the process
Since the review cycle is continuous then in order to describe the sequence of activities we have to start somewhere; for this purpose the start will be taken as the point at which objectives are set each year.
In June-August each year line managers meet with employees to discuss their objectives for the coming year.
1) The manager should take the lead to arrange the meeting
2) Make sure you give enough notice of the meeting
3) Make sure an adequate record is made of the agreed objectives
(For details on setting objectives see the Objective Setting section below).
At the same time line managers should discuss employee development. Typically this should be done through an open discussion about all aspects of learning that is both taking place and needed (including on-the-job development, learning from colleagues, etc) and not only focused on training courses. There should be a strong focus on the employee stating how and what they are learning, and how this is being applied.
This will lead to an understanding about development needs, which should be discussed with reference to relevance and criticality; i.e. what impact will the development have, and when. The reality is that not all formal training needs can be met as requested, so it is important to set priorities – particularly in the context of the broader needs of the School, Department or Research Institute concerned. However it may be possible for other forms of learning (such as those stated above) to be used.
The next step in the process is to review progress in December-January (mid-cycle review) about 6 months after setting objectives.
The purpose of this is to give both manager and employee the chance to discuss progress, performance and consider changes to objectives, development needs, in the light of any changed priorities, etc. It is important to recognise that objectives and plans are not “set in stone”. Flexibility is needed - changes to plans at School/Department/Research Institute or team level, or changes in priorities / plans based on local needs may well impact on individual work priorities.
The mid-cycle review meeting should proceed as follows:
1) Managers take the lead to arrange meetings
2) Give employees enough notice of the meetings
3) Both employee and manager should come prepared to discuss progress (on objectives), performance and achievement of any development plans previously set
4) A record of the main points discussed in the meeting as well as a brief not as to progress on objectives, should be written into the review form. The manager should do this then pass to the employee for any changes or concurrence.
The mid-cycle review is important, but managers should, as a fundamental part of their role, assess progress, performance, and development needs as a matter of routine – many managers prefer to hold more frequent, informal discussions with staff as this ensures both regular contact and the opportunity to raise issues at the appropriate time. (See "Leading a Team").
A full-cycle review is held in the following June-August, i.e. about a year after setting objectives. The purpose of this is to discuss progress, performance and development needs, as well as a more general conversation about how the employee feels about their role, possible career development, specific issues, etc.
It is important to recognise that the opportunity is as much about what the employee brings to the conversation as does the manager; how employees feel about what they are doing and ideas for improvements are critical to overall RGU performance improvement.
The full-cycle review should proceed as follows:
1) Managers take the lead by communicating the review process to employees and arranging meetings
2) Each employee is asked to fill in the Self-Appraisal Form. This simple form acts to guide the subsequent discussion and gives the employee the opportunity to have early input to the process, including the opportunity to reflect more broadly on what learning and development has taken place.
3) Hand a copy of the Self-Appraisal Form to your manager
4) Both employee and manager should ensure they are ready to discuss progress on objectives, overall performance and development needs at the review meeting
5) Set aside enough time for the meeting – at least an hour is likely to be needed for a meaningful discussion
6) Hold the full-cycle review meeting (See "Holding Review Meetings" for further help).
The suggested outline of how to proceed with a review meeting follows:
a. A general introduction, explaining the process
b. Go through the objectives set for review cycle just ended and
mutually assess progress (using the self-appraisal form as
input as well as reviewer input)
c. Decide on level of attainment on each objective and record
d. Add comments for each objective
e. Discuss the 5 behaviours to emphasise their importance as
foundations of how we do what we do
f. Discuss areas of strength and improvement relevant to the 5
g. If the reviewee is a manager, refer to the additional
leadership behaviours relevant to managers (explained on the
Review Form and under Behaviours)
h. Discuss career expectations (if applicable) and make notes
i. Discuss training and development needs (finalise after
reviewing at School / Department / RI level)
j. Where appropriate assess the reviewee as (see The Performance
Framework for detailed guidance):
i. An exceptional performer
ii. Does not meet the standard expected
7) Managers record brief notes against each objective and summarise overall performance. It is important that an accurate record is maintained in order to ensure continuity between reviews and to ensure both good performance and improvement needs are recognised.
At about the same time (mid-year) Schools, Departments and Research Institutes review priorities for development (skills needed to meet the agreed plans). Development needs of employees, raised during review meetings, should be reviewed collectively in the context of the overall needs and priorities. Individual development plans can then be set and communicated back to employees.
Hence training and development plans for the coming year are discussed with employees in two stages – stage 1 takes place during the full-cycle review meeting (involving a preliminary discussion about development needs) and stage 2 takes place later to confirm development plans and feed this back to employees. As a consequence of the need for prioritisation, not everyone will necessarily get the development they feel they require.
Note that training that is funded centrally by HR must be approved in advance by using the PDR (Personal Development Request) form – available from the HR Staff Development website.
At about the same time (June-August) objectives are set for the coming year and the full cycle has been completed; you now move into the next review cycle.