Frequently asked questions about PRDPs

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. Reviewers should be aware of when PRDPs are due and remind their staff in plenty of time. If there is any doubt then please check with your local HR contact.

All staff should participate with the PRDP process in line with local timescales – however, length and details of conversations can be adapted to suit the circumstances, with both parties agreement.

Staff with clinical roles don’t need to do an Imperial form as well but do still need to have a conversation with their Imperial line manager.

The only exclusions to the PRDP process are:

  • Staff on probation (but objectives and development plans should carry through from probation)
  • Staff on long term family, sabbatical leave and sickness absences
  • Senior research investigators

Request a PRDP from your line manager. If the request is unsuccessful then instigate a conversation to discuss this further and explore the barriers to having a PRDP conversation. If this isn’t resolved you can then approach their line manager, and/or request advice from your local HR contact.

PRDPs can take around 45 and 90 minutes depending on the circumstances; however, they usually take about 60 minutes.

Allocate the available time across the three parts of the PRDP and decide who will record the key points. Either party can take the notes; both need to keep a copy. Check local arrangements and, if required, ensure a copy is sent to a departmental administrator or Head of Department.

Once the paperwork has been completed, agreed and signed, both reviewer and reviewee need to hold on to a copy. Reviewers should update manager’s self-service in ICIS to ensure there is a record that the PRDP conversation has taken place. In some areas PRDP forms may also 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 during the year at the six month point as a minimum. This enables progress in meeting objectives and implementing the development plan to be discussed and further action to be agreed as necessary.

Both parties have an ongoing responsibility to review and to take action.

It can be helpful to think about what your development needs are for the short-term and the long-term. The following questions could trigger some thoughts:

  • What new skills, knowledge or experience would be of help in the forthcoming year?
  • What learning approach  is most likely to have a positive impact?
  • What is available within the College/elsewhere?
  • How does it fit in with my wider career and development aspirations?

Both parties are responsible for tackling differences of opinion swiftly and constructively. If the reviewee/reviewer relationship is working well and there have been regular one-to-ones and exchange of feedback it reduces the likelihood that immovable differences will emerge during the PRDP.

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 also useful techniques in this situation.If the issue is relatively insignificant, you can 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 the reviewer’s line manager.

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

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 towards 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.