Frequently Asked Questions

What does the ARC process look like for Clinical Academics?

Like all staff, Clinical Academics employed by the College are expected to engage and participate in the ARC process. Your Imperial line manager and clinical manager at the relevant Trust should be present at the Annual Review Conversation so that you can jointly review your past year contributions and create a work plan for the year ahead for both sides of your role. To ensure that the ARC process covers what is needed for both the academic and clinical sides, use the ARC Outcome Form - Clinical Academics.

Please note this new procedure and paperwork is separate from NHS Trust requirements for GMC revalidation.

For more information on the agreement for Joint Clinical Academic Performance Reviews between the College and AHSC partners, please read the Letter to all clinicians with honorary contracts from the Dean of Medicine and Trust representatives previously issued to clinical academic colleagues in April 2021.

Why is it called the Annual Review Conversation (ARC)?

ARC stands for Annual Review Conversations. This is because, at its core, this is about individuals and their line managers having an effective conversation, reviewing all the necessary factors needed for an individual to thrive at work.

The conversation should be a yearly review of the ongoing discussion about how you work at your best, reflecting on the past year and what you need to achieve moving forward and meet your career goals.

What are the core topics covered in ARC?

ARC covers five core topics: Review (performance and previous objectives), Reflect (reflections and learning from the previous year), Working Well (wellbeing and support needs), Career (career support and development needs), and Plan (objective setting and work planning).

How often do ARC conversations take place?

Annual Review Conversations take place annually, but the discussion should be continued all year round in regular 1-2-1 meetings.
The university has designated two seasons for ARC conversations: February-April and July-September.

Staff members and their line managers are encouraged to schedule their ARC conversations within these timeframes.

You can view a list of Departments/Seasons on our website.

How does my ARC conversation relate to performance management?

The Annual Review Conversation is part of how your performance is managed along with other things such as your 1-2-1s with your manager, feedback from stakeholders, any progress trackers or KPIs your team uses, etc.
However, now that the process does not include mandatory ratings, it is not a traditional performance evaluation appraisal.
Instead, the process should be a discussion from which individuals walk away with a clearer understanding of how they have performed against their objectives in the past year and how they can work at their best to fulfil their objectives for the year ahead.

How does this process feed into pay and promotions?

The Annual Review Conversation does not directly feed into pay awards and promotions.
The conversations should be used to reflect on the past year, discuss factors around how you work well, and reflect on how to achieve your objectives moving forward.
However, individuals should come away from their ARC with a clearer understanding of how their manager perceives how they have performed in the past year, whether they are on track to potentially progress in the near future, and the necessary steps to do that.  For more details on this, please read the ARC Policy.

In what circumstances can someone other than my line manager conduct my Annual Review Conversation?

  • The vast majority of staff should have their Annual Review Conversation conducted by their line manager, and there are only very exceptional cases where this would not happen.
  • If someone reports to someone who has more than 15 direct reports and therefore, it would be unfeasible for them to have Annual Review Conversations with all their reports, they may be able to have their ARCs with a different member of staff.
    This member of staff should be at an appropriate job grade (their own or a level above) and have a reasonably detailed oversight of the role.
    This can only be done with the permission of their line manager, who should receive a copy of the key points and actions form document. 

For more details on this, please read the ARC Policy.

Why have mandatory ratings been removed from the forms?

By structuring the conversation around rating the past year's performance, we were sacrificing time that should be spent on improving performance moving forward, which is essential for the future of the departments and the College.
Having ratings also emphasises the one yearly conversation being the time and place to communicate their performance to the individual rather than this being an ongoing and two-way conversation year-round.
Similarly, managers should not wait for the annual review to reflect on their teams' performance. 

If you feel you would benefit from your manager rating your performance in different areas of your work, you can use the optional rating tool from the ARC Toolkit.
This should only be used at the request of the subject of the Annual Review Conversation.

Should I have an ARC during the probation period?

The ARC meeting is separate from the probation process. The probation process should be followed per the guidelines on the HR web pages, including a 3-month check-in and a 6-month meeting (probation review form).

The ARC toolkit may include tools that will help the probation process (for example, questions to help set objectives in the Managers' Question Bank).

How long should my Annual Review Conversation take?

Every member of staff is entitled to at least one hour with their manager to have their ARC Annual Review.
However, it may take more or less time depending on the nature of the role and how much the individual would like to discuss the factors they need to work well and the career support they need.
Communicate with your manager about how much time you think you will need, and if you do not manage to discuss everything you need, you can always book a subsequent meeting.

How can I provide feedback on the ARC process?

Feedback on the ARC process can be provided through various channels. This may include surveys, feedback sessions, or direct communication with the HR department or relevant stakeholders.
Your feedback is valuable in continuously improving and refining the ARC process.
Once you have completed your Annual Review Conversation, please complete the ARC Experience evaluation Form. If you have any feedback in the meantime, please email

Who has access to my responses to the ARC Preparation Form?

The Office 365 Microsoft Form, which hosts the ARC Preparation Form, is managed by the People and Organisational Development (POD) Team, which sits within the Human Resources Division. Access to the back end of the form will be controlled and limited to select POD team members. No one will be reading the responses to the free-text boxes – this information is only collected and stored on a secure SharePoint for the purposes of automating sending responses to line managers. Best practices for GDPR compliance will be maintained. 

The only analysis done on this data will be an anonymised analysis of the factors selected to understand what subtopics are important to people and how trends change over time. No one centrally will be reviewing the ‘Reflections’ sections, and these will not be passed to anyone else. 

The anonymised data on the sub-topics selected will be stored over time to allow for an analysis of trends (grouped by Department and Job Family), but all other data will be deleted after 18 months. Any analysis on selected sub-topics will be completely anonymised and unidentifiable. 

This form is covered by the Privacy Notice for Staff and Prospective Staff

My PRDP was scheduled for outside my department’s ARC window. Should I wait for my ARC window or have my planned PRDP?

There must be a transition period as we move from the PRDP to the ARC process.

Speak to your manager and departmental leadership about what you should do about your scheduled PRDP, and you can use your judgement for what makes sense for you whilst you wait for your department’s ARC season.

It may make sense to have a mini-ARC in the meantime to get the support you need.
If you have any queries or are unsure, please email