How to Get the Best out of the Performance Development Review 2017

Dear Colleagues,

Across the University we are being asked to complete the PDR documents between February 2017 and May 2017 as part of the new PDR cycle. This document has been prepared by the local UCU branch activists to try to help our colleagues get the best out of the PDR process at Cardiff University.

Three key changes to the PDR documents include changes to the ‘rating’ system which is now focused on meeting the objectives set, or not; the addition of a box for personal circumstances/extenuating circumstance to be noted; and the opportunity to review the reviewer’s summary and make comments on any differences, misinterpretations or note other evidence.

We encourage members to engage actively with the process as a way to facilitate personal development and to manage workload. Below we highlight some of the key things to consider when engaging with the PDR process.

Firstly, objectives should be considered to be fluid not static. If changes occur during the PDR cycle that affect your ability to reach any objectives that have been set, we would encourage you to notify your line manager as soon as possible (by email so that you retain a record) and ask that your PDR form be amended to reflect a change in your objectives for the cycle.

Second, ensure that objectives set are within your control and that adequate time is allocated to them.  You might have a goal to submit a grant/manuscript or attempt to recruit a PhD student but you should not agree to an objective to gain a grant, have a manuscript accepted or take on a new PhD student since these are, to some extent, beyond your control.  Specific time for these objectives should be identifiable in the AWAM.

Third, academic colleagues should complete their PDR with reference to the Academic Workload Allocation Model (AWAM). This is particularly pertinent if you believe that work you are doing is not covered or allocated by your AWAM or you feel that tariffs allocated are lower than the work you are undertaking. Be clear about how different aspects of the AWAM are supporting or inhibiting progress in relation to your objectives.

Fourth, communicate with management about obstacles that prevent you from reaching your objectives in order to ascertain whether action can be taken to support you in your work. We would encourage communication with management throughout the PDR cycle via email. This communication may be referred to in the PDR form (for example, in the ‘General’ section, part iii or in response to the reviewers’ summary) as evidence to support why objectives may not have been met.

Fifth, trade union representatives should highlight that they may have spent time on union duties which are supported by the trade union facilities agreement and allow you reasonable time off to undertake, for example, case work or attend meetings with management.

Sixth, be clear about the support and training that you need to achieve your objectives. This can be done within the ‘planning’ section of the form. It is important to use this section in order to focus your PDR discussions on development. Where training or support has not been available within the PDR cycle, this may affect your potential to meet your objectives.

Finally, the new sections of the form that enable you to note personal circumstances/extenuating circumstance (within the ‘General’ section of the self-review form) and comment on the reviewers summary (to be written after your reviewers has summarised the meeting) should be used to highlight any areas where you feel you need greater support or to specify that you are not satisfied with the process/objectives or other issues.

In order to facilitate completion of the forms and getting the best out of the process, we would also encourage colleagues to look at the PDR section on the intranet (, including guidance for reviewees and reviewers. There are also two Learn Plus videos available, within the ‘Online Modules about the PDR Process’ section. Within the ‘about PDR section’ you can find guidance on the process, and within the ‘Download’ section on the right of this page there is also an FAQ paper that provides some further details, including ‘What do I do if I don’t agree with my Reviewer’s assessment and summary?‘ ( Please contact UCU if you are not satisfied with the outcome following the Head of School/Departments decision.