Light Touch PDR Conversations during lockdown

The coronavirus outbreak has dramatically shifted the University’s immediate priorities over recent months, as everyone has pulled together to adapt to lockdown restrictions, remote working and online teaching. This, combined with the fact that many staff are facing additional challenges during the pandemic (e.g. increased caring responsibilities) means that objectives set in last year’s PDR may not have been met.

The University has taken the decision not to proceed with the formal PDR process this year however, meetings between staff and line managers should continue as far as possible. These meetings are a vital opportunity for managers and their staff to connect in a meaningful way, share reflections and appreciation, and discuss concerns in difficult times. This is especially true for staff who may have recently experienced bereavement, loss of household income, increased mental health issues or increased caring responsibilities, and for BME staff affected by the Black Lives Matter movement. Regular team meetings should also continue to take place, as they help prevent colleagues from feeling detached while we’re working remotely, and make sure managers’ can offer consistent support to their staff.

Any ‘light-touch’ PDR write up should include acknowledgment of any agreed adjustments to objectives, workload or working patterns, for individual members of staff. Where a barrier, such as the impact of COVID-19 or lockdown, may have impacted on an individual’s ability to meet agreed objectives from the previous year, it should not impact negatively on the individual in terms of demonstrating good performance over the past year. Nor should any revised working pattern/workload create a barrier to any learning and development opportunities which have been identified as part of the ongoing PDR process.

There are some circumstances where it won’t be helpful to have a light-touch PDR conversation right now, including:

  • Where workload or caring responsibilities means that any form of PDR conversation would cause undue pressure on either the manager, or the person they are managing;
  • Where someone has been furloughed and therefore is not able to work;
  • Where future objectives are unclear due to the current context (although a conversation around a review of the previous year might still be useful).

Where this is the case, please postpone any conversations until it’s realistically possible to reschedule them.

Given the transition from CoreHR to our new-in-house PDR system, which is being piloted exclusively by those on the ECDP Programme and our international colleagues in Singapore, means that PDR conversations cannot be recorded this year however this simple word document, Light Touch PDR Conversations, capturing the core elements of the conversation, may be useful for this purpose.