What are PDRs and why are they important?

Written by Holly Hart, Organisation Development Consultant, Organisation Development 

The aim of the on-going PDR process is to ensure we have regular, high quality conversations about how we are doing, our goals, and what development, support and advice we need to achieve our goals and objectives.

The formal PDR meeting is an opportunity to have a conversation reflecting on the past year, and recognising our achievements, challenges, development and progress. Based on our reflections on the past year, it’s also the time to make plans for the year ahead, and to set our objectives. Considering how we are performing will help us to identify the best way to approach our personal and professional development over the next year and beyond.

The aim is to have a constructive and motivating conversation which creates clarity about our performance and our objectives.

The outcomes from the conversation are documented on a PDR form, which is used to capture the discussion between the ourselves and the reviewer. To help faculties make sure that each of us has access to the right types of support and development as well as to inform decisions around reward and recognition, PDR forms are made available to line management.

In addition to the annual PDR conversation, we are all encouraged to meet with our reviewers regularly throughout the year. These informal meetings are an opportunity to have open, honest and constructive conversations about performance, development and support. This will help to ensure that there are no surprises at the annual formal PDR meeting, and will also ensure that we are getting the support and advice that we need throughout the year.

There are a number of resources available to support our preparation for the PDR meeting, including the PDR Support webpage which has a short video on preparing for your PDR. Our Principles in Action also gives us a framework to think of our own development, and there are a number of tools to help us consider our development on the internal webpages.

What can I do Next?

Written by Donald Lush 

A few years ago I was listening to a radio interview with a fire fighter. He gave one of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard:

“Never go into a burning building without knowing how you’re going to get out”

This is great advice for life in general but it has particular value in a careers context, where I think it means:

“Always plan at least two career moves ahead.”

The more you have a clear vision and strategy for your career, the more likely you are to achieve your objectives.

Of course, this is easy to say and hard to do. What if you don’t know the first move? Begin by forgiving yourself for not knowing. Everyone feels they should know what their own personal career plan is and it can be a great source of self-inflicted stress if you’re at a loss.  Don’t let the stress take over and stop you thinking clearly.

Here are some career questions you can ask yourself to dispel the clouds and get the ideas flowing:

  • What’s important to you?
  • What do you love?
  • What do you want?
  • What do you need?

You may find some of the answers by thinking about the following issues:

  • Salary
  • Location
  • Responsibility/Management/Leadership
  • Opportunities for promotion
  • Flexibility
  • Who you want to serve and why
  • What type of organisation you work in (what it does, how big, small and so on)

There will be many more issues personally relevant to you. Try to imagine a typical work day, five years ahead. See yourself walking through the doors first thing in the morning. How does your imagined day live up to your wish list?  What will you be doing that day (and with whom) that ensures you satisfy those wishes?

To go a bit deeper, it might also help to learn a bit about your skills in relation to your needs. Here are some more questions to ask yourself:

  • What can I do?
  • What can’t I do?
  • What do I want to do?
  • What do I not want to do?

You will spend many years at work and you’ll enjoy it much more if you are doing something you love and are good at (these are often the same thing).

Finally, as a researcher, don’t feel you are stuck in a narrow niche. You have skills that all employers value. You can solve problems, communicate, organise, analyse and research your way in a huge variety of situations. Your curiosity and creativity will keep you moving and your hard won resilience will ensure you reach your goals.

For a one to one careers discussion with one of our consultants please click here.

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To check out our extensive range of careers training courses click here.

We have a suite of self-study online career courses here.