PRDPs should take place annually with regular reviews at a minimum of 6 months.
PRDP cycles vary in different departments to allow for different pressure points.
You should allocate between 45 - 90 minutes for each meeting.

PRDP purpose and benefits

The process

The PRDP  process provides a formal platform for you to engage in a constructive and meaningful discussion with your team members that:

  • Acknowledges individual successes and achievements from the previous year.
  • Reviews personal contributions and performance from the past 12 months.
  • Provides the opportunity for ongoing two-way feedback.
  • Explores the individual’s career aspirations.
  • Agrees and sets objectives for the next 6 -12 months.
  • Discusses and plans future training and development needs.

Having an effective PRDP conversation can

Having an effective PRDP conversation can

  • Strengthen your relationship with direct reports.
  • Help you learn more about your people - their values, aspirations and challenges.
  • Ensure your team have the skills, confidence and ability to perform effectively.
  • Pick up any problem areas before they escalate.
  • Identify how your people can support you to meet team goals and objectives.
  • Provide valuable information for succession planning, e.g., some want to take on more responsibility while others consider retirement?

PRDPs work best when:

PRDPs work best when:

  • Both you and your team member are committed to the process, plan for the meeting and use it constructively. 
  • The conversation is built on a foundation of good communication and regular feedback.
  • There is an emphasis on the conversation rather than diligently completing a form.
  • Goals and actions agreed upon are reviewed regularly.

Paperwork

The College produces PRDP forms as templates to support meaningful PRDPs. They are prompts to shape and support meaningful conversations.
They suggest topics to be covered and provide a basic means of recording the most useful areas of the PRDP conversation.
You will find the forms on the main PRDP web page.

The forms are designed to help frame the conversation and capture the key points. They don’t need to be long documents, and it’s fine to use bullet points. However, capturing some information ensures agreement between both parties. Over time, a record of the PRDP form can be a reminder of growth and development. It provides a record of the conversation and agreed objectives, which can be reviewed and updated throughout the year.

Preaparing for the PRDP

Before the meeting

It can be helpful to remind all staff when local deadlines are approaching, with information on the relevant paperwork and any local agreements for sharing and retention of forms.

  • Usually, you’ll start the process by alerting your team members in line with your departmental calendar. However, a person can also alert their manager if, for whatever reason, they think their PRDP is overdue. 
  • Review last year’s PRDP or probation paperwork, as appropriate, and take time to gather your thoughts and views.
  • At the preparatory stage, you might seek input from a variety of sources (e.g. mentors, stakeholders, customers)
  • Agree on the location and timing of the meeting – finding a place that offers a degree of comfort, is free from distractions, and allows for a confidential conversation.

Here are some resources to help you prepare for the meeting

During the meeting

This is your opportunity to :

  • Review the previous year’s:
    • Achievements and highlights
    • Key learnings and development
    • Progress made against objectives
  • Explore career plans and aspirations.
  • Provide context for the forthcoming year  - you may have information to share about the direction the team or department is going, the strategic objectives, and any challenges or changes.
  • Agree to goals and targets for the upcoming year.
    • Wherever possible objectives should be SMART - Specific Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound or Timely, you can find out more about writing SMART  objectives.
  • Identify development needs and opportunities.

Be curious: Taking a coaching or questioning approach is a great way to get your team to open up and also helps create a relaxed environment. Ideally, the person being reviewed should be doing most of the talking. You can download a PRDP Question Guide you might like to use during the discussion.

Feedback: Whilst you will have provided feedback throughout the year, the PRDP is a good opportunity to offer further positive and developmental feedback. Guidance on providing feedback can be found in the guide Feedback tips and process.

Note-taking: Either party can take the notes; both of you need to keep a copy. Check local arrangements and, if required, ensure a copy is sent to a departmental administrator or Head of Department.

Career and development planning

Part of your management responsibility is to develop your staff.  Supporting  them to identify and develop the appropriate skills, knowledge and attitudes to:

  • do their jobs well and fulfil agreed objectives
  • support team and organisational goals
  • progress in their careers

The PRDP offers the ideal opportunity to have career development conversations. These conversations can be beneficial for both of you. Here’s a guide that will help you approach career discussion and development planning: Guide to career and development planning .

After the meeting

  • The paperwork needs to be completed, agreed and signed by you and the team member.
  • You should then update the manager's self-service in ICIS to ensure there is a record that the PRDP conversation has taken place.
  • PRDPs may be reviewed by the Head of Department/appraiser’s line manager or collated by a local coordinator – this is dependent on local requirements.
  • The PRDP form and objectives should be jointly reviewed at the six-month point as a minimum during the year. This enables progress in meeting objectives and implementing the development plan to be discussed and further action to be agreed as necessary.
  • Both you and your staff members have an ongoing responsibility to review and to take action.

Overcoming challenges

Resolving performance issues before the PRDP

  • The PRDP provides a review and recognition of the year’s work and is used to discuss the breadth of the person’s job, of which any performance issues are likely to be only one aspect.
  • Performance issues should not be saved up for an annual PRDP but raised and explored as swiftly as possible in separate meetings throughout the year.

Ongoing feedback

  • Managers should be providing regular feedback to their people throughout the year. See this guide: Feedback tips and process.
  • If there is a perceived lack of appreciation, positive and constructive feedback, this should be discussed in the PRDP with plans to rectify this in the forthcoming year.

Differences of opinion between appraiser and appraisee

Differences of opinion occur from time to time. These are often due to unclear communication and misunderstandings. If the relationship is working well and you have been having regular one-to-ones and exchanges of feedback, it reduces the likelihood that immovable differences will emerge during the PRDP.

If a disagreement does occur:

  • An exploration of the different perspectives can be useful as a first step to resolving the situation.
  • Open questions, suspending judgement, asking for more information and each party aiming to understand the other more fully are useful techniques.
  • If the issue is relatively insignificant, agree to record the differences and move on.
  • If the issue is significant and the exploration has not generated results, it may be necessary to involve a third party – possibly your line manager or HR.

Relationship to pay/promotion:

  • The College’s process is designed to focus on the quality of the conversation and to provide an open, honest forum for discussing work and development goals. This can be harder to achieve when our attention is narrowed by concerns about the resulting impact on our financial security. Research from the CIPD (2016) reported the value of having clear water between pay/promotion conversations and conversations focusing on development and making improvements.
  • Clearly, there is a relationship between the actions discussed in an appraisal and the judgements made concerning pay and promotion. However, these activities should not be conducted concurrently.

Training & support for managers

People and Organisational Development (POD) offers Management and Leadership programmes, which equip you with the skills, knowledge and confidence to be an effective leader and manager of people. Key aspects of leadership are covered, including having effective performance conversations.

The LDC also runs department-specific PRDP sessions for managers’ on request. Please get in touch with Beth Richardson if you’d like to find out more: b.richardson@imperial.ac.uk