Human Resources

How to have a quality annual review conversation

The focus in annual review is about having an honest two way conversation. The resources and 5 steps to take will help you have a positive performance and development discussion.

1. Reflect back

On key achievements

What has gone well and what are you proud of?

How you have approached and carried out work and helped to make an impact?

On key challenges

What and how could work have gone better?

On key changes

What changes have there been to your role, priorities and how you have been working? How have you adapted to these?


2. Provide feedback

This gives you both the opportunity for an honest two-way conversation, talking about strengths and areas for you to work on as an individual and as a team with your line manager. 

On objectives

What do you and your manager want to do more of/less of/differently?

On behaviours demonstrated

How you have been working together and with others?

We have new guidance, in the form of a Behaviours Charter, on the behaviours which reflect our values. This is to support conversations around the importance of how we do our job, as well as what we have achieved. Use the Behaviours Charter to have conversations around how you have demonstrated our values and to help identify development options focused on developing the right behaviours.

Behaviours Charter


3. Plan and set objectives

Share priorities

As the manager/reviewer, share priorities aligned to School/Department plans and Strategy 2030.

Set objectives

Together, discuss and set clear and realistic objectives and timeframes. While the annual review can’t address wider uncertainties, it can help clarify what is expected and create some clear parameters.

Consider setting short/medium term objectives and longer term objectives, for example if you are working on a three year research project. 

Visit the Objective Library for examples of objectives which can be tailored to your role.

Objective Library


Agree expectations

Talk and agree on how to approach meeting these objectives. For example what behaviours will help to achieve these goals. 

Evidence suggests that having clear expectations and being offered support to achieve them has a positive impact on your wellbeing and motivation.


4. Identify development objectives

Work out what to focus on in the next year or two. Agree how this can be achieved. This may be linked performance objectives and also career development objectives aligned to career plans. Agree how this can be achieved and what support to offer.

Discuss career plans

Talk about career aspirations and what your future plans are.

Career Development Tools

Discuss learning needs 

Discuss learning needs to achieve the above objectives and expectations set.


5. Agree any other support and how and when to review progress

We recommend you both check in at several points during the year to review progress.

This provides an opportunity to adapt objectives and discuss changing priorities.


Looking for more support

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