Human Resources

Understanding the context of your work

This section can help you complete Section B that summarises agreed objectives for the next 12 months. In particular it may help you to see how your objectives contribute to your Faculty, Department or Service.

We work best when we have a clear picture of what we are trying to achieve. This might be working towards a defined goal or objective, something that we can tick off and say we have achieved. Other times our work has a less concrete result. We can lose focus and energy if we can’t see the point of the work we are doing, or see that it has made a difference. Are you clear about the purpose of your work and the expectations that others have of you? If not, it may also be useful to consider the questions below about your contribution to a bigger scheme of things.

Your role in the your Department or Service

The PDR asks you to consider your objectives in line with what your Department or Service is trying to achieve. Are you clear about this? Can you see how your work contributes to this? You may wish to ask questions about your role in relation to others in your area. Is it clear how you need to work together, or share information for a common purpose? Do you have a clear remit of your own, or does confusion over responsibilities cause problems?

Your relationship with other teams or departments

It’s easy for us to work in isolation and be loyal to our own area to the detriment of others. If you have noticed problematic relationships between your area and another you may wish to discuss this with your reviewer.

Your relationship with your line manager

Your line manager has a responsibility to clarify with you how your role is connected to the wider scheme of things and contributes to the overall aims of your area. You may like to reflect on whether you are clear about this. Do you feel that your line manager provides the right balance of direction about what to do, guidance on how to do it and freedom to let you get on and do it? This is a tricky balance for anyone to get right so it can be helpful to talk about it in a constructive and positive way. It is also a balance that changes with your experience in the role. For example, as you become more competent you need less direction and greater scope to use your own initiative. In a professional relationship both of you should be able to raise concerns and discuss solutions objectively.

Where is the University heading in the future?

The review meeting is a good opportunity to ask about changes that might affect your role or career choices. Will there be new areas where you might be able to use your skills and experience? It’s important that your department understands what you could bring to changes ahead. Political, economic and social advances all impact on Universities and create both risks and opportunities.

Writing objectives and performance indicators

This section can help you complete Section B that summarises your objectives for the next 12 months. In particular it may help to write these effectively.

An objective is something which you plan to do or achieve. A performance indicator is how you will know if you have met the objective. A performance indicator describes what you or others will see if you have met your objective. So if your objective is to improve student satisfaction, the performance indicator might be results of a student satisfaction questionnaire. Objectives and performance indicators can be more difficult to identify if your work is open-ended or cyclical. Your objective might be:

  • Something new that you plan to do
  • Something that you plan to do differently
  • To explore links with other areas
  • To develop relationships with others
  • To work in a different way on something
  • To share your expertise with others as a mentor or advisor



Performance Indicator


Explore ways in which the admin system could be streamlined.


Report on options for streamlining submitted by 10 December.


Develop new contacts in Europe to generate new research collaborations.


New collaborations are discussed or started by Semester 2.


Complete course preparation 2 weeks in advance of each course.


Feedback from course tutors confirms preparation has been done in advance.


Improve the way that students are welcomed by staff in Halls of Residence.


Staff trained in customer service. Student feedback shows improvement.


Reduce food waste at evening meals by serving correct portion sizes.


£x of food waste saved over 6 months.

Reflecting on your personal and professional development

This section can help you complete Sections B and C and inform your objectives for next year as well as your development needs.

What do you enjoy about your job?

Which aspects of your job do you find particularly rewarding? This could be particular tasks that you do, skills that you use, people that you work with, a difference that you make. Equally, which of these do you find most frustrating, and why?

What unique qualities do you bring to your job?

No one person is the same. Even if you do the same job as someone else, you will bring a unique set of knowledge, skills, attributes and experience to it. Attributes are personal qualities such as perseverance, patience, warmth, determination, conscientiousness, tenacity, amiability and tolerance. Experience includes the whole of life, not just work. Do you have the opportunity to use your unique qualities in your work? Are there other contributions that you could make to your area?

Formal and informal learning

Formal learning includes training courses, educational or professional development programmes or one-to-one instruction. You might have taken part in formal learning in or outside the workplace. Informal learning can happen in many different ways. You may have learnt from dealing with new challenges, situations or responsibilities; seeing others in action; hearing an alternative perspective or through coaching or mentoring. If you keep a CPD (Continuing Professional Development) record, it would be a good idea to update it and consider bringing it to the review meeting. Either way, it would be useful to discuss what you have learned and how you have applied it in your work.

Future development needs

The last part of your PDR will focus on your future development. You may already have ideas about what you would like to develop and how. Could you benefit from:

  • Mentoring (a one-to-one relationship with someone who shares their experience with you)
  • Coaching (a one-to-one relationship with someone who asks questions to help you think things through)
  • Secondments (a temporary change of role for a set period of time)
  • Temporary membership of a Working Party
  • Project work
  • Changes to your job, tasks or responsibilities
  • Observation, peer review and development
  • Attending conferences
  • In-house informal discussions or seminars
  • Tutoring of or by peers
  • Visits
  • Internal and external committee work
  • Training or inducting new staff
  • Time set aside for independent learning
  • Representing the School, Department or University in a wider context
  • Giving new presentations
  • Organising events
  • Review, evaluation or audit activities
  • Planned or guided reading
  • Organising a consultation exercise or gathering feedback
  • Acting as a reviewer or examiner
  • Team activities
  • A new challenge or responsibility
  • Joining or creating a network of contacts

For a full list of and further information on staff development opportunities you can visit

Relating your future plans to your current role

If you know what you would like to be doing in the future, are there ways that you can develop in that direction in your current role? This might involve taking on new tasks or responsibilities, or developing skills or attributes that will be valuable later on. With your reviewers agreement and support you can use your PDR to identify ways in which you can move towards your own goals by contributing in your current role.

How much to share with your reviewer? This is an important question. It may depend on your relationship with your reviewer. People are rightly reticent about suggesting a future job change to their manager – it’s a bit like discussing a hypothetical divorce with your don’t really want to sow seeds of doubt about your commitment. That said, it is usually worth discussing the interests that you have relating to your current work, and exploring areas where you could develop.