Personal development review

Personal development reviews go under a variety of names such as performance review, performance management, or performance appraisal.

From an organisation’s point of view the purpose is to assess an individual’s performance and to reinforce the connection to the aims and objectives of the organisation.

For the individual the benefit is the opportunity it gives you to understand and demonstrate your worth to the organisation, and to discuss your objectives and development over the next review period.

A 360-degree assessment sometimes forms part of an appraisal process. If there is a serious issue with an individual’s performance they should be aware of it anyway – the appraisal interview should not be the first time this is raised.

The review process should be both backwards and forwards looking and should be developmental rather than focusing on a direct link between pay/bonus. A good PDR process does not include disciplinary procedures. The top tips below concentrate on the developmental aspects of the review.

Top tips for an effective personal development session

Before the interview:

Check who is responsible for booking a review meeting and the frequency of the meetings.

If someone else has booked the meeting, ensure you have plenty of notice, and know where and when it will be held and what will be discussed.

Dig out all relevant documents such as the job description, your last appraisal documentation, details of any objectives set, and copies of any competency or other framework used in the organisation. Prospect has a members’ guide to competencies and how to prepare for them.

Be prepared to discuss your performance in detail, especially against any specific objectives, with examples of work you have done and extra responsibilities you have taken on. It helps to have some facts and figures to support you.

If you have had some issues to overcome, be prepared to discuss these honestly, but stress the actions taken to overcome these. Again, it helps to have some facts and figures to support you.

Be prepared to talk about any training you have undertaken in the period, and how you have used this – or plan to – in the workplace.

Think about the next review period. Is there any training, development or other career development that you would like to take advantage of? How will this benefit you, and the organisation? Be prepared to explain what you want and why, and how the organisation will benefit.

At the review:

Be confident and assertive. This is not a time for modesty. Make sure that you have raised all the points you wanted to make in support of your performance in the review period.

Listen carefully with an open mind. Clarify and ask for more examples if necessary.

Take notes to help you reflect later.

Ensure that any goals or objectives are realistic and fair. Once objectives are set, agree with your manager a way of reopening the discussion if circumstances change in the review period.

A good way to decide whether objectives are reasonable is to use the SMART model to set goals.

The SMART model

The SMART acronym stands for: Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic and Timed.

Specific: objectives should define what needs to be done and what is deliverable.

Measurable: how much, how many, and how you will know when it is achieved.

Agreed (achievable is sometimes used): both parties should be in agreement.

Realistic (or relevant): objectives should be meaningful and appropriate to the level of experience and skill.

Timed (or time-bound): objectives need defined timescales and achieved by a given date.

If things don’t go to plan and you have problems, see Prospect’s members’ guide to appealing against performance appraisal.

ACAS also provides general guidance on performance reviews.