Staff Development, Performance and Promotions

The University aims to build the knowledge, skills and capabilities of its staff in support of the University's world class research and excellent student experience; enable all staff to be and perform at their best; and ensure that development, performance and promotions processes are inclusive, fair, respectful of diversity and promote equitable access for staff.


Frequently asked questions

Below you will find all frequently asked questions relating to development, performance and promotions procedures. 


PDR - Planning, development and review

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The need for PDR

  • Why PDR?

    Success in the University means creating an environment where people can perform at their best to enable the school, branch and individual to achieve their objectives.

    It is the role of all people managers to guide and manage the performance of staff, both as individuals and as a team. They must ensure a clear line of sight linking everyone’s work to the University’s strategy; they must also convey what contribution is expected, set performance objectives, provide feedback, appraise performance, guide development and ensure staff are rewarded for good performance.

    The Vice Chancellor & President has made the PDR process a key focus for the University of Adelaide, and has set clear expectations around the importance and need for PDR conversations to take place for every staff member.

    PDR has the following objectives:

    • The PDR enables you and your supervisor to align individual short and longer-term work and development objectives with those of the University and your unit;
    • Ensure role clarity and reach agreement on annual objectives of the position;
    • Provide feedback to you and your supervisor on a regular basis throughout the planning, development and review cycle; and
    • Determine appropriate training in relation to the position and for career development purposes.
  • What can I do to prepare for my PDR discussion?

    For Staff

    Your supervisor will schedule a meeting with you for your Planning, Development and Review discussion.

    At this time your supervisor will explain to you:

    • the purpose of the discussion.
    • the format of the discussion.
    • how you should prepare for the discussion.

    Your preparation prior to the Planning, Development and Review discussion involves:



    • Professional Staff: Your Position Description
    • Academic staff: Classification Standards: Academic and Research Only Staff (Schedule 6 of the University of Adelaide Enterprise Agreement), relevant Adelaide Academic: Role Statement and Individual Academic Profile.
    • Your Work Plan Objectives set in the previous review period against what was achieved.


    • Evidence of performance.


    • Achievements for the period under review.
    • Performance against objectives set in previous review period.
    • Objectives that were not achieved, the reasons and the impacts.
    • Suggestions for improvement.
    • Training and development activities undertaken.
    • Mentor feedback.


    • Any problems encountered. Be specific and offer possible solutions.
    • Any specific training needs


    • Suggestions for new Work Plan objectives and how to measure the objectives.
    • Ideas for possible learning and development activities to assist you in achieving your Work Plan objectives and improving your performance.
    • Career planning and possible activities to assist you in achieving your career goals (optional).

    For Supervisors

    The supervisor’s preparation prior to the Planning, Development and Review meeting involves:

    • reviewing the goals and targets outlined in the: (1) University’s Strategic Plan; (2) Faculty/Division Plans; and (3) School/Branch Plans, and identifying how they flow into the local work area and the work of the individual members of staff.
    • familiarising yourself with the work/role of the individual staff member.
    • Familiarising yourself with the leave balances, current workload of the individual as well as knowledge of any declared Conflicts of Interest (if applicable) prior to the PDR meeting
    • identifying how the individual staff member contributes to achieving these goals.
    • reviewing and identifying appropriate workload allocation.
    • developing a position description or reviewing and identifying any changes required in the current position description (Professional Staff only).
    • collecting/collating evidence on the performance during the period under review.
    • identifying areas for further development and/or improvement that need to be addressed in the discussion.

    In addition, identify any specific workplace issues that may need:

  • Should my position description be reviewed as a part of the PDR process?

    If you have a current position description/role statement, this can be used to help develop your work objectives for the year, and will be a useful document to review as part of the process. It may also be an opportunity for you and your supervisor to consider any updates that may be necessary to your position description/role statement if there have been changes to your job since your last PDR conversation.


The University cycle

  • How often should I have a progress review?

    You should have progress reviews regularly. You can provide feedback informally throughout the year, and there are 3 formal PDR conversations – Objective Setting, the Mid Term Review, and the Final Review.

  • Should PDR be conducted on an annual cycle or on my anniversary date?

    PDR is conducted on an annual cycle, using the calendar year as a guide. See the breakdown of PDR stages.

  • Timing - why was the calendar year picked for PDR?

    A common cycle for PDR is required so that everyone completes their reviews by a certain point. There is no one perfect time for all as business and financial planning uses a calendar year approach, so to does PDR.

  • Is PDR a one off process or should there be regular conversations?

    The formal PDR process should include an Objective setting meeting, mid term review and final review, however regular informal discussions and reviews are encouraged to monitor progress and keep plans on track throughout the year.

    It is also good practice to have a discussion if supervisors or roles change - this helps ensure you get timely feedback and know what is expected of you as well as aligning goals and development needs.

    PDR is not a one off process, it is an cyclical process and should compliment ongoing conversations throughout the year.

  • Do I have to have 3 PDR conversations?

    While you may have a number of informal conversations during the year about work objectives, it is important that the formal discussions take place to ensure both staff and supervisors have the opportunity to discuss work objectives, development, performance, development and can also identify any blockages or issues that are posing challenges.

    Whilst it is important that each of these conversations takes place (i.e. objective setting, mid term review and final review), it is possible for the final review and objective setting for the following year to be completed at the same meeting.


Roles and responsibilities

  • Who will participate in the PDR process?

    All staff other than casuals will participate in the PDR process. This includes both academic and professional staff and staff on fixed term contracts till the end of December 2023.

  • Who is responsible for conducting my PDR?

    For professional staff your supervisor is the person you report to.

    For academic staff your supervisor may be your Head of School or Executive Dean. In large departments you may be assigned a supervisor who should have insight into the work you do. If you do not know who your supervisor is you should check with your Head of School.


  • Do I have a PDR plan if I am on probation?

    Yes. Even if you are on probation you should still take part in the Planning, Development and Review process. Your supervisor may note your probationary status on the your PDR plan as well as the probation end date. Please not that probation time frames will vary depending on whether you are a professional or academic staff member.

  • Do I need to participate in PDR if I'm a casual or job share staff?

    Casual staff members are encouraged to also discuss their performance and development issues with their supervisor but do not need to complete a formal plan.

    If you work in a job share capacity you may have the same performance objectives as your counterpart, depending on your level and job responsibilities, however PDR conversations should be conducted individually.

  • What happens if my supervisor changes during the PDR cycle?

    This will happen from time to time. It might be appropriate for your current supervisor to discuss with your previous supervisor your performance since the last PDR discussion. You may want to ask both supervisors to attend the part of your PDR discussion which reviews performance. However your previous supervisor does not need to be involved in setting goals and development plans for the future.

  • What should I do with PDR if the duties of my role have changed during the year?

    You will need to discuss this with your supervisor and agree on a sensible approach. Each situation will be different, however if your role changed during the last 12 months your PDR objectives should have been updated to match your current responsibilities. If this did not happen and your documented objectives are no longer relevant you should discuss this in your meeting or speak to your supervisor before your PDR discussion.

  • What should I do with PDR if I have changed roles within the University?

    If the role is quite different you will discuss and set objectives with the new supervisor. If the role transfer happens in the mid-late part of the year, it may be beneficial to include both supervisors in a review conversation and handover.

  • What should I do with PDR if I have staff who have transferred from another area in the University?

    If objectives have been set in previous role - If the staff member is in a similar role, it may be worthwhile incorporating or considering the objectives that have already been set.

  • When should I conduct PDR with my staff members if I have staff commencing out of line with the PDR cycle?

    No matter what period we are in with the PDR cycle, it is recommended that you meet as soon as practical to discuss expectations of the role, clarify duties and set work and development objectives. This can also be done in conjunction with the first probation meeting. From there you can work towards transitioning to the PDR cycle. For example, if a staff member commencing in the middle of the year may have an Objective Setting meeting and a final review meeting and omit the Mid Term Review. A staff member commencing towards the end of the year may set some short term goals and discuss short term development but commence their formal PDR in the following year.

  • If my supervisor is going away over the time scheduled for PDR what do I do?

    If a supervisor will be away around the period when PDR conversations would be taking place, they will need to advise their direct reports of this and arrange for the PDR conversations to be conducted when they are available, or with alternative supervisor.


Accountability and monitoring

  • With direct reports who work between two managers, who will be the PDR owning manager?

    This should be discussed between managers, with input from the staff member if suitable. In most instances one manager may become the primary ‘owning’ manager for PDR, but it is expected that both managers will provide input into the individual’s review.

  • What happens if my supervisor is not available for the PDR discussion by the due date?

    PDR is compulsory for all staff other than casuals. If there is a difficulty with arranging the meeting you should consult your Executive Dean or Director to ensure alternative arrangements are put in place.

  • If I didn't get the teaching relief support, can I be held accountable?

    Where possible the University seeks to support staff in the achievement of their goals and development. Unfortunately it is not always practical for the University to support all staff requests for support and this will be taken into consideration when reviewing performance achievements. Staff must still demonstrate a reasonable level of achievement with the resources they had available to them.

  • I was absent from work for 6 months. What does that mean for me and my PDR?

    Due to your prolonged absence it is reasonable that your performance will reflect this. It is important to note the length of your absence in your comments and assess your performance and achievements for the time you were at the University.

  • How do I record my PDR?

    Due to your prolonged absence it is reasonable that your performance will reflect this. It is important to note the length of your absence in your comments and assess your performance and achievements for the time you were at the University.

  • How do I submit my PDR for recording?

    PDRs are to be submitted through Staff Services Online (SSO) by the relevant deadline. More information about the PDR Cycle and timeframes can be found below. A quick reference guide is available to assist in submitting your PDR and also for supervisors in approving a PDR submission.

  • How will anyone know if my team or I don't participate in PDR?

    All PDRs should be recorded in SSO by the relevant deadlines. Reports are run by HR and periodically provided toHeads of School, Branch Directors and summaries to Executive Deans. PDR participation rates will be reported on annually to council.

  • When is PDR reported on?

    PDR participation at a cohort view is reported annually during April and May based on Objective setting completion of active employees as at 31 March who hold a continuing or fixed-term contract to the end of that year, excluding those on long term leave.

    Management reports are provided to Heads of Schools and Branch Directors on the completion of Objective setting in April and May and on completion of Final Review in December and the following February, using a point in time approach. High level reports are provided at the same time to the Executive Dean.

  • Who is included in the PDR participation report?

    Active employees as at 31 March who hold a continuing or fixed-term contract to the end of that year, excluding those on long term leave at time of reporting.

  • If I have changed roles within the PDR cycle, how should I record my PDR?

    If you have set objectives in your previous role, and confirmed this in Staff Services Online - you will need to discuss with your new supervisor how they would like to record and track PDR. The new set of objectives should be confirmed and stored in the shared drive. If your supervisor would like your PDR confirmed through SSO you are able to contact the HR Service Centre to request for your Objective Setting row to be reset. This will allow you to upload a new PDR document and confirm your PDR with your new supervisor.

    If you have not yet confirmed a PDR in Staff Services Online - you are able to do this following your first objective setting meeting with your new supervisor. You may need to manually update the change of supervisor within the system.

  • What can I do if I disagree with my supervisor's comments on my PDR?

    It is important that you and your Supervisor talk through your PDR form and any comments made. If you disagree with your Supervisor’s comments, you should talk this through with them. If you are not satisfied after discussing this with them, you may wish to talk to the Human Resources Advisor for your Faculty or Business Unit.

  • Will completing the PDR affect my salary increment?

    No. As per the Enterprise Agreement, you will still get your salary increment on your anniversary date. HR will inform you when you are due for incremental progression. Your performance can be an input into the decision to accelerate or withhold payments.

  • Who can access my PDR plan?

    If attached to your SSO entry, you and your supervisor will have access to this document. If not attached it is recommended that storage by managed locally where it can be accessed by you and your supervisor.

  • Are there any other alternatives to the PDR resolution process if I disagree with my supervisor (regarding PDR)?

    Staff can contact HR for advice at any stage of the PDR process. Staff are encouraged to resolve PDR issues and disputes at a local level by discussing it with their Supervisor in the first instance. However, if you unable to resolve the problem with your supervisor, you may follow the Complaint Resolution (Staff) Procedure to resolve the matter, or seek advice from your HR Advisor.

  • Is there a PDR dispute resolution process?

    Please refer to the University of Adelaide Enterprise Agreement (as amended) (Clause 8.4 and 8.5) for information about dispute resolution processes.

  • When there is a change in roles e.g. a direct report receives a promotion what happens to their current PDR?

    This depends on the time of year the change in role occurs, it will be managed on a case by case basis. The plan will stay with the individual and in some cases the objectives will need to be updated, in others they will not. Regardless it is important that all managers provide input into the individual’s review.


Setting SMART objectives


Deliverables and expectations

  • What are the timeframes for PDR stages?

    The PDR stages, and associated timeframes are consistant each year. The SSO confirmation deadline varies from year to year and can be checked via the PDR webpage Objective Setting from 1 January to 31 March. The Objective Setting stage allows for clear and meaningful work objectives to be set for the year. It is expected that this planning conversation would include, workload allocations, teaching targets, research expectations, and leave planning. The Objective Setting stage is also an opportunity to discuss development and set development objectives and plans for the year. 

    Mid Term Review from 1 June to 31 July. This stage provides an opportunity to acknowledge and document progress made towards achieving the agreed objectives; to provide coaching or guidance on objectives yet to be achieved; to discuss new opportunities and/or changes in direction; and to discuss progress on individual development goals.

    Final Review from 1 November to 15 January. This stage is to review actual performance outcomes against agreed objectives and to discuss progress made towards development goals and career plans and the impact that this has made. 

    Should you wish to use your final review meeting to also set objectives for the next year, you are welcome to do this however this should be recorded in the PDR tracker as two meetings (one review meeting and one objective setting meeting). The recommended timeframe for this approach is 1 December to 29 February.

  • We are in the proess of major change in my portfolio/unit - do the same PDR deliverables and expectations apply?

    Planning Development and Reviews (PDR) are a basic requirement of our employment at the University. PDR discussions are important because they help all staff to be clear about the University’s and their unit’s goals. They help convey what contribution is expected from you, how you are performing, and what development you might undertake for your current role and for your career. Open and honest conversations are particulary important during periods of change however where necessary objectives, timeframes and deliverables may need to be adjusted in line with the timeframes for, or outcomes of, major change processes.

  • How are the Academic Role Statements used in PDR?

    The minimum performance expectations defined in the Role Statements are one of the inputs to inform the objectives set in the PDR process. Where minimum standards are achieved, staff and supervisors should plan objectives that support high performance, rather than being confined to minimum performance.

  • How are the Individual Academic Profiles (IAPs) used in PDR?

    The Individual Academic Profile (IAP) is a record of existing information from University systems that specifically relates to a staff member's academic achievement in a range of areas including teaching activity, HDR supervision and completion, in addition to publications and research grants.

    The IAP is used to support PDR conversations by providing a collation of evidence of academic achievements to assist in more effciently assessing progress of a staff member's individual objectives. There will be other evidence that a staff member will bring to the conversation, but the IAP provides a core of information that is consistent across the University. Any anomalies with the data in the IAP can be discussed at the PDR meeting and subsequently updated with the relevant data source.

  • How and when will I gain access to my IAP?

    Planning and Analytics will send to each academic staff member by email their IAP in February and July. Heads of School will access all reports through a network shared folder.

  • What kind of support is available for PDR?

    PDR workshops are offered each year, visit the Training section of the PDR webpage for links to the PDR workshops where you will find more information and registration.

    There are also a number of online resources available in the Support Resources section of the PDR webpage to support supervisors and staff to achieve meaningful outcomes from the PDR process. Online resources are being updated all the time, and include policies and procedures, FAQs, forms and templates, and links to useful information and resources. For further information please visit the Performance and Development website.

  • What if I haven't been trained in PDR?

    If you believe you need additional training and have not attended a targeted training session, you can speak with your supervisor to determine the most suitable approach to developing your PDR capability. In addition to training, There are online resources which may assist you in conducting PDR meetings with your staff members.

    For further information please visit the Performance and Development website.

  • Do I have to use a form for PDR?

    The PDR conversation record is a template to help ensure you cover all the relevant componets of an effective Planning, Development and Review discussion. It is able to be edited where needed to suit the needs of the staff member and supervisor.


Reward and recognition

The purpose of these FAQs is to provide supervisors and managers with a framework for the reward and recognition of outstanding achievement and performance. This information should be read in conjunction with the Staff Development, Performance and Promotions Policy, Remunerations and Employment Benefits Policy and Loadings, Allowances and Performance Bonus Procedure (as amended or replaced).

Printable Version

  • Why does the University of Adelaide reward and recognise outstanding achievement and performance?

    The University of Adelaide believes its staff should work in an environment where they are valued and where outstanding achievement and performance is recognised. Such an environment provides for greater job satisfaction, increased staff motivation and productivity, and improves attraction and retention rates. Reward and recognition reinforces the University’s strategic vision by recognising contributions or behaviour that supports its goals and objectives.

    Reward and recognition mechanisms at the University of Adelaide fall into three categories:

    • Informal reward and recognition
    • Formal reward and recognition
    • Formal University-wide reward and recognition
  • Who is eligible to receive a reward and/or recognition?

    All staff members are eligible to be rewarded for evidenced and consistent outstanding achievement and performance. Teams and groups, as well as individuals, can be rewarded.

  • What guidelines should a supervisor or manager consider when applying a reward?

    The following guidelines should be considered when applying rewards: The reward and recognition process should be equitable, transparent and merit-based.

    • Where appropriate, there should be evidence-based data to support reward and recognition decisions.
    • The level of the reward should be commensurate with the achievement, level of performance or impact on the University.
    • The reason for the reward should be clearly communicated firstly to the individual or team, and then to a wider audience where appropriate.
    • The type or form of reward given should be valued by, and meaningful to, the particular staff member(s). For example, some individuals enjoy public recognition while others prefer private recognition in person or with a thank-you note.
    • Rewards are not allocated to circumvent promotion and reclassification processes.
  • When can outstanding achievement and performance be recognised?

    • To ensure a fair and transparent approach within the University, staff may be recognised for the following exceptional contributions, including but not limited to:
    • Excellence in teaching and research;
    • Exceptional innovation or improvement;
    • Customer satisfaction and service;
    • Outstanding community engagement; and
    • Exemplary effort or achievement in the core areas of our people, processes, infrastructure and community.

    Timely rewards, i.e. rewards that are given as soon as possible after outstanding achievement and performance are noted, have a greater impact on the staff member or team. In this regard it may be more impactful if the reward or recognition is related to the staff member’s interests or preference. There will be occasions when it is not possible to give the reward immediately, for example when applying for formal rewards. In these cases, keep the staff member or team informed of your intention to reward them and the progress made towards arranging the reward.

    Planning, Development and Review discussions throughout the year are also ideal opportunities to reflect on achievements and determine whether a distinct reward or recognition activity will be appropriate.

  • Are there typical examples of the actions or behaviours that merit reward and/or recognition?

    The following are examples of actions or behaviours that may merit reward and/or recognition.

    Demonstrated Leadership

    • Demonstrating exemplary leadership, providing a sense of purpose, vision and mission to co-workers and/or staff, beyond what is expected and where great results have been achieved.
    • Managing and leading complex initiatives smoothly and effectively.
    • Investing time and effort in coaching and/or mentoring, and achieving success in improving capability and performance.
    • Demonstrated leadership in an important area (e.g. in safety awareness).
    • Consider the University’s Seven Critical Leadership Capabilities as a useful reference for recognition in this category

    Excellence in teaching and research

    • Exceptional productivity and/or innovation in teaching or research.
    • Demonstrating creativity, imagination or innovation with clear results in either traditional learning environments or technology-based environments.

    Exceptional innovation or improvement

    • The development of a new idea, or improvement on an existing idea, that results in significant savings to the University.
    • An initiative, e.g. a simplification of procedures, that results in increased productivity, efficiency or cost containment.
    • Taking a proactive and innovative approach towards finding solutions to business and workplace challenges.

    Customer satisfaction and service

    • Providing a consistently high level of service across the University community for staff, students and/or alumni.
    • Exceptional service, beyond the call of duty in resolving a customer (staff/student) issue.

    Outstanding community engagement

    • Exceptional effort in engaging with the community for its intellectual, environmental, social and/or cultural development.
    • Breaking down barriers and/or creating new relationships for the benefit of the University.
    • Exemplary effort or achievement in the core areas of our people, processes, infrastructure and community
    • Role-modelling a University value under difficult conditions. Please refer to the Code of Conduct Policy for the University Values.
  • What form can informal reward and recognition take and when might it be applied?

    Understanding informal rewards

    Informal rewards are a spontaneous, sincere and personal appreciation of an individual, team or group. Informal rewards should be timely, i.e. they should follow closely behind the achievement being rewarded and, again, it is likely to be more impactful if the reward or recognition is related to the staff member’s interests or preference. Informal rewards can take various forms and are made at a supervisor’s discretion.

    Applying informal rewards


    Informal recognition that is immediate, sincere and personalised is one of the most effective means of acknowledging efforts and ensuring staff know their contribution is valued. Consider the following suggestions that may be suitable means of recognition: Praise or ‘thank you’, either privately or publicly.

    • A short note or ‘thank you’ card or email.
    • Acknowledgement at staff meetings or other appropriate functions.
    • A certificate and/ or letter of appreciation with a copy placed on the staff member’s personnel file.
    • Providing small appreciation rewards, e.g. chocolates, movie tickets, morning teas, gift vouchers etc.
    • Setting up a notice board to display ‘thank you’ memos, photos, progress towards goals, etc.
    • Arranging a personalised gift to celebrate a milestone or service anniversary.

    Development opportunities

    Consider offering development opportunities that are valued and meaningful to the staff member, and aligned to their interests, strengths and career aspirations. For example: Selection to represent their local area at a meeting or attend as an observer.

    • The opportunity to attend an external conference or seminar.
    • A chance to be involved in a special project.
    • Mentoring or work shadowing opportunities.

    Smaller monetary rewards

    A small monetary award may be given to recognise a staff member’s contributions or behaviour (where budgetary conditions allow), such as: To allow, on occasion, a staff member to leave early in recognition of their efforts.

    • Contribution towards professional memberships.
    • Small gift eg. Chocolates, movie tickets, gift voucher etc.
  • What form can formal reward and recognition take and when might it be applied?

    The University has a range of formal reward mechanisms. These are set out in the following procedures (as amended or replaced):

    Please refer to the relevant procedure for further information on selecting and recommending appropriate formal rewards.

  • What form can University-wide reward and recognition take and when might it be applied?

    There are various reward and recognition mechanisms that are not covered by University policy but are available through nomination and are celebrated on a regular basis.

    They include:

    • Silver Jubilee Staff Reception recognising 25 years of service.
    • Vice-Chancellor's Awards
    • Formal Awards that are specific to a Faculty/Division.