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Durham University

Annual Development Review (ADR)

Frequently Asked Questions

The main reason for the ADR scheme is to help staff develop to their full potential and to understand how the work they do can contribute to Durham's strategic ambitions and future development.

The University is successful because of the excellent work our staff do and we want to ensure that our staff can discuss priorities for the future and professional development opportunities.

Yes, the scheme applies to all staff employed on a University contract of employment.

From the 2105/16 review of the ASR scheme it was identified that the current “one size fits all” approach was no longer working. A representative working group was set up to consider how we could ensure the process added value to both individuals and the University as a whole. Members of the group liaised with staff across the University and researched the approach taken by other institutions. The outcome of the review was that the ADR process needs to take into account the diversity of roles across the University. This led to the working group designing different ADR forms for different staff categories.

Every member of staff has a discussion with an appropriate reviewer. It is a chance to discuss how the job is going, say what has gone well and not so well, discuss your career goals, agree appropriate targets and priorities for the coming year and to highlight any training or development that may be needed to help you achieve your targets.

It is difficult to say as it will depend to a large degree on each individual and what they want from the meeting. On average a review meeting is approximately 45 minutes but they can take longer.

Yes, all staff are required to participate in the scheme. This is good practice for all staff at any stage in their career. Staff are encouraged to see this as an opportunity to discuss, at least once a year, issues relating to their role and how they can contribute to the success of the department and University.

The ADR is part of the terms and conditions of employment and as such is compulsory for all staff.

Where a line management structure exists your reviewer is usually your line manager. Where there is not a line management structure, the Head of Department decides who is an "appropriate" reviewer. If you disagree with your allocated reviewer you should contact your Head of Department to discuss.

If you have more than one job, you can decide to have separate reviews for each role, or you can decide to have a joint review. A joint review may be more appropriate when the two jobs are the same but they are carried out in different teams or departments. When the two jobs are significantly different there should be a review for each.

Where a joint review takes place it may be necessary for a reviewer who can comment on each role to be present at the review meeting. You should discuss this with your Head of Department(s) to agree the most appropriate way forward.

The forms are there to help structure the discussion; they also provide a record of the meeting. However, the most important part of the review meeting is the discussion. The information on the forms can be as detailed as you want it to be and will depend on the role you have.

There is no precise number of objectives - this will vary according to the role you have and your future plans. It is important however, that the number and nature of the objectives are realistic and manageable within the job role. Agreed objectives should relate to team/departmental and University priorities, as well as recognising the aspirations of individual staff.

A good way to structure objectives is to use the acronym SMART. Objectives should be:

Specific - leave no room for misinterpretation

Measureable - how will progress be measured?

Agreed - the objective should be agreed by the reviewer and reviewee. Commitment is better than compliance.

Realistic - This does not mean that the objective shouldn't be challenging.

Timed - There needs to be a timescale set for completion and, if possible, timely milestones along the was so progress can be measured.

You should think about priorities and objectives that you believe are appropriate before the review meeting; your ideas will be discussed at your review meeting along with any others suggested by your reviewer with a view to reaching agreement in light of individual and departmental needs.

There can be many reasons why someone does not meet their targets. Priorities can change and unforeseen obstacles can arise during the year. However, if a member of staff is identified as needing help to achieve their targets, a supportive development plan will be agreed. The ADR is not the process for dealing with underperformance; we already have a well-established performance improvement policy to deal with such issues.

While the University will try to meet as many training and development needs as possible, there may be budgetary constraints and any requests must be prioritised according to the benefit it would bring to your department and the University. If your request for training and development cannot be met, you should receive feedback to explain this decision. There may also be alternative ways to meet the training or development needs.

The ADR is primarily about feedback, assessment, forward planning and training and development needs. The ADR does not replace or change existing mechanisms for dealing with academic promotions. However, it provides robust and useful evidence that can help inform the academic promotion process.

All cases for re-grading must be considered through the Grading Review process. If the evidence gathered at the ADR meeting suggests that the role (not the person) has developed and requires a significantly higher level of responsibility, the Head of Department (or the individual) may consider a submission using the Grading Review process.

New members of staff should still have an ADR meeting, even if they are joining the University part way through the year. However, this will be a "light touch" meeting and will take place as part of the normal probationary process.