Annual Review - Frequently Asked Questions
- Tell me about why the scheme operates the way it does
- Give me some more information about the process
- What happens after the meeting?
How does this process differ from appraisal?
The annual review meeting is an opportunity to discuss the reviewee’s past and present performance, and to agree actions and plans for the future. Both reviewer and reviewee have a shared responsibility for the process and its outcomes. Appraisal processes are more likely to simply focus on a review of the past.
Does it link to merit pay?
There is no recommendation on pay arising from annual review. The University has designed and consulted upon an annual review scheme which is focused on objective setting and development. Annual Review is an opportunity provided for all staff who have completed their probationary period, regardless of salary placement on scale to talk about their past and current work, and to agree objectives for the future. The intended outcome of reviews is an agreed record of individual development needs and plans which aligns future learning and continuous improvement with team and individual objectives.
Under current arrangements, eligibility for consideration for merit pay is restricted to those members of staff who have reached the top of the incremental range for their grade. Since annual review and merit pay are both primarily concerned with discussing achievement there will be synergies between both conversations. However, annual review conversations are available for all staff, not just the most senior in each grade.
What happens if an individual is in a formal Management of Performance process?
The Management of Performance Procedure is intended to be used in the small number of cases were there is a serious concern related to under-performance, and is a formal process which must observe specific requirements. Annual review is a standard process for all staff which assumes that staff are already capable of performing at the minimum base standard required for the role. The two procedures are separate. If you are in the situation where you are due to conduct an Annual Review meeting with an individual who is in the formal stages of the Management of Performance process then you should contact your link HR Adviser for advice on your specific case.
Is annual review linked to the management of performance?
It’s important to start by defining what we mean by the term management of performance. There is a spectrum of performance/achievement, and each of us operates at a point on that spectrum from outstanding performance to serious concerns relating to under-performance (which is very rare).
Clearly, there will be occasions when an individual appears to be at risk of sliding towards under-performance. In this instance, supervisors and managers will begin by starting informal discussions, to identify expectations, agree work targets and put in place development plans.
For those very few staff where there then continues to be a serious concern related to under-performance, the University implements the formal stage of its Management of Performance procedure. This formal stage incorporates a specified sequence of events, is essentially developmental and aims to support the individual concerned to enhance his/her performance to achieve a satisfactory level or above. Specific characteristics of the formal stage of the management of performance process are the right to be notified in advance of the issues under discussion, the right to be accompanied to meetings an the right to appeal.
The very small number of staff who are in this formal stage of the management of performance process will have regular meetings to identify progress, targets and support.
The vast majority of staff will be operating in the spectrum of performance from satisfactory to outstanding, and for these staff, achievements, performance and targets will be discussed and agreed in the annual review process. Annual review is an informal but structured process in which a reviewee discusses achievements and progress in the past review period, agrees objectives for the coming period that are aligned to the department’s and the University’s, has the opportunity to discuss career aspirations and agrees training and development needs. Annual review is therefore a separate, informal process focussed on development, target setting and monitoring of progress.
There is an expectation that objectives agreed in annual review are achievable yet stretching in order to encourage strong performance. Reviewees are expected to work to the realistic and challenging objectives that have been agreed and reviewers are expected to encourage and support reviewees to achieve those objectives.
Will this review affect my annual increment?
There is no direct link between annual review and any form of pay within the University’s current terms and conditions of employment. Annual increments are awarded each year (unless there are exceptional grounds for withholding the increment) until an individual’s salary reaches the maximum of the grade scale.
What happens if we don’t agree?
Any disagreement should be noted on the form. Your Reviewing Manager or Head of Department will assist you in finding a way forward.
Is Annual Review a mandatory process?
Annual Review should take place every year, as the title suggests and it is expected that all staff will take part with the following exceptions:
- staff on probation
- clinicians at WMS
- staff in the Commercial areas
All of these groups of staff use their own, robust review processes that have been in place for some time. In addition, staff on study leave are not expected to take part in annual review until they return from leave.
Why do we have to do reviews between January and April?
This was felt to be the most appropriate time following consultation with Union representatives and staff groups. It also fits in with other University processes and reduces duplication for those compiling data to be used in Senior Salary Review and merit pay processes.
What repercussions, if any, would there be for non-participation?
The opportunity for a regular and structured discussion with the person who has line management or leadership responsibility is fundamentally good practice. Research shows that organisations who give their staff an opportunity to talk about their work, set realistic objectives and discuss their development have a more harmonious and productive working environment.
Where colleagues indicate that they do not wish to take part, then leaders and managers should use routine one to one meetings or arrange some one to one meetings which will not formally be called annual review meetings, in order to discuss achievement, objectives for the coming year, learning and development needs and offer an opportunity to discuss career aspirations. In this way leaders and managers are demonstrating good practice in terms of organizing regular and structured discussions with their people, agreeing outcomes and recording what has been agreed.
May I choose to be reviewed by someone else in another department?
The role of reviewer will fall to your line manager or person holding leadership responsibility for your work activity and will normally be obvious rather than a matter of choice. The only circumstance where someone from another department might be involved would be if you performed a dual role spanning departmental boundaries.
Is peer review an option?
There is an overwhelming advantage for all concerned for the reviewer to hold some line management or leadership responsibility for the reviewee. For example, if aspects of an individual’s agreed development plan require a resource commitment and / or prioritisation this will not normally be open to peers to determine. It is recognised, however, that there are departments where their organisational arrangements would require a single reviewer to directly review a large number of reviewees. Practical solutions can be developed to overcome these apparent difficulties provided the fundamental principles of the annual review policy are not undermined or ignored. In the first instance, take advice from your Head of Department.
Should staff in fixed term contracts take part in annual review?
Staff on fixed term contracts who are in leadership or management roles are likely to take part in annual review as reviewers.
Staff on fixed term contracts should be offered a review meeting as a reviewee if they have finished any probationary period and have at least four months left to run on their contracts. In this situation, reviewees will not be able to agree annual objectives, but can agree objectives to the end of the contract.
Once a member of staff on a fixed term contract enters the last four months of a contract, the University’s fixed term contract policy will apply, and the University will enter a consultation period in which the individual should be offered a series of meetings to discuss the end of the contract and advise on potential job opportunities..
How do I get a copy of the documentation and guidance notes?
The documentation and guidance notes are available on the annual review Forms page of the Learning and Development Centre website.
Why are there three different annual review forms?
The forms were developed in the annual review Working Group with representatives from staff groups and Trade Unions involved in their design. There is one form for Academic staff, and there are two forms for non-academic staff. This recognises that there are many different roles within the University and that one form may not be appropriate for all staff groups.
How do I find out how to prepare for my annual review?
Who will conduct my review?
Your review will be conducted by someone within your department at a level senior to yourself. This may be your line manager, or someone appointed by him or her or your Head of Department to conduct the review.
Who would conduct the review for a member of staff shared with another department?
Feedback and evidence on the individual's performance should be discussed by both managers and the review conducted by the most appropriate individual based on this feedback.
What about probationary staff?
Probationary staff do not participate in annual review but move to the annual review cycle upon successful completion of probation.
Do Professors participate as reviewees? If so who would review them?
Yes, annual review is for all University of Warwick staff, excluding the Commercial Group, Clinicians at the Medical School and Academics at the Business School. The Head of Department (or their representative) will conduct these reviews.
How many review meetings will each reviewer be expected to conduct?
Ideally, reviewers should conduct between 6-8 reviews. Where a reviewer has more direct reports than this, then alternative reviewing structures will be devised by the department. HR Advisors will assist with this and suggest examples from other departments.
Who else will have access to my review?
Your review will be confidential between yourself, your reviewer and the reviewing manager. There will, however, be elements of the annual review discussion which are known in the wider world or are observable in the wider world. In that sense it is impossible for every single issue raised in an annual review meeting never to be mentioned outside of that discussion.
Reviewers and reviewing managers will, for example, have information that is available to them (e.g. their working, observable knowledge of their people and their achievements, centrally held publications data, grant income data, financial data) all of which may have been referred to during an annual review meeting. They will use this information in their working lives as leaders. In so doing, they are not breaching confidentiality, since they are referring to data that is already understood or discernible outside of the three party annual review relationship.
There are other processes in which individual achievement and performance is reviewed (e.g. the merit pay process where an individual’s submission is considered by a departmental panel). Reviewers and reviewing managers may be members of panels for these processes. Reviewers and reviewing managers will share information in those review meetings which may have been raised in an annual review discussion, but which is also known or discernible in the wider world. Since this information is already known from a context outside of the annual review meeting, it is not confidential.
Who decides which form is used for non-academic staff?
The reviewer and reviewee will agree which form would be most appropriate
Do I have to be at a certain grade before I can conduct a review?
If you have line management responsibility at any level you are able to conduct reviews.
Who keeps the paperwork after the meeting?
The form is signed off by the reviewee and reviewer and the reviewing manager or Head of Department. The original form is kept in the department, confidential to these parties. Information from all annual reviews carried out is summarised anonymously by the reviewer into development needs and themes to be discussed with the Head of Department. The summary of development needs is then compiled and passed to the Learning and Development Centre to inform the University's Learning and Development Plan.
Do staff on Study Leave need to take part in annual review?
All those returning from study leave are required, as a condition of study leave, to complete a report on the use that has been made of the study leave period. The form should be completed alongside a meeting with the Head of Department and then forwarded to the Deputy Vice Chancellor. The applicant should also have met with the Head of Department before applying for/gaining Head of Department approval for the leave to establish research objectives for the period and these will be reviewed during this return meeting. This is a sufficient review process in itself and the person would not be required to do an additional annual review. They would however, be expected to rejoin the annual review process the following year.
What should I do if my annual review isn’t happening?
Your reviewer is responsible for arranging your review with you. If your review isn’t being arranged, the first thing to do is to ask your reviewer if this can be done. If your reviewer is finding it difficult to prioritise your review, then it may need to be delayed a little beyond the annual review period (January to April) in which case it is important to clarify with your reviewer what your objectives should be for the intervening period. In a very small number of cases, reviews may not happen, despite requests being made. In this instance you should talk to your Head of Department, or in larger departments, your Reviewing Manager, who will be your reviewer’s reviewer to ask if this can be tackled. You could also speak to your HR Advisor to ask for advice.
What happens to the information about identified training or development needs?
These will be summarised in your department and sent to the Learning and Development Centre. The summary will be used to help the Centre plan and provide training and development the following year.
How will my development needs be met?
Meeting learning and development needs is not only about attending a course. There are lots of activities you can do either within or outside the workplace to learn and develop your skills and practice. Examples include: work shadowing, secondments, serving on Committees, coaching, job rotation, project work, volunteering. You may find it useful to use the online Planning Your Development tool
What happens if my objectives change?
If you complete your objectives or they change in some way during the year, you should discuss this with your reviewer and note down any changes on your agreed record of development needs and plans. This will ensure that the changes will form part of the discussion for your next annual review.