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The four components of the PMDR review

Supervisors are encouraged to structure the PMDR review to cover the following four components:

  • Review of achievements;
  • Goals for next 12 month period;
  • Professional learning needs; and
  • Career development plan.

Component 1: review of achievements

Prior to the PMDR review and once the employee's PMDR draft documentation has been received, the supervisor should review whether the employee has comprehensively and accurately captured all their achievements during the past review period or where other additional achievements should be included. These achievements should be considered against the work goals and developmental goals established and agreed in the previous PMDR review.

Supervisors should then consider:

  • What are the employee's areas of strength to be commended and what are the areas for improvement?
  • What factors have facilitated or impeded improvement?
  • What achievements have been delayed and for what reason?

Component 2: goals for the next 12 month period

Linking individual goals to work unit goals

Once supervisors have identified the objectives for their work unit, these objectives can be used to develop objectives for each employee within the team. Each employee contributes to the accomplishment of some or all of the work unit's objectives and should understand how their contribution supports the objectives of the work unit and SCU.

Principles of goal setting

Prior to the PMDR review, consider the goals drafted by the employee in their PMDR documentation, having regard to the following principles:

  • Specific goals increase performance;
  • Difficult but attainable goals, when accepted, result in higher performance than easy goals;
  • Employees perform better when they get feedback on how well they are progressing towards goals;
  • Employees are motivated by the need to improve on their previous 'personal best';
  • Employees stay motivated by breaking down their goals into short-term targets;
  • Employees must believe that they can perform; and
  • Employees with goals are more engaged and have a sense of ownership.

Review goals at the PMDR review

Given the nature of objectives and how critical they are in driving overall organisational performance, it is worth spending some time during the PMDR reviewing goals and objectives to ensure they are useful and measurable. The commonly accepted standard for objectives is to determine whether they are SMART.

SMART Criteria -

    Results Oriented
    Time Bound
Checklist for assessing SMART goals
SpecificDoes the goal explain precisely what has to be achieved?
Does the goal clearly explain the level/standard of performance expected?
Choose words that describe the goal in action oriented terms, eg. Increase, reduce, provide, establish, eliminate, etc

Does the goal indicate how the results will be measured? Each work goal must have at least one measure so that the employee and supervisor are clear on how they will assess the employee's performance. There is usually more than one way to measure performance.

Measures and standards (i.e. performance criteria) may be objective (eg. number of papers published, dollar value of grants awarded and complaint or error rates) or more subjective (eg. quality and standard of work produced, client satisfaction, student or peer feedback).

Where an employee has been engaged in a team effort, measures for determining their individual contribution to the team's performance should be identifiable and agreed.


Is the performance goal challenging, yet achievable?

Does the goal include only actions or outcomes that the employee is responsible and accountable for - not things that are beyond the control of the employee?

Are performance goals realistic in terms of number and scope? It is better to have a few clear goals which can be completed to a high standard than to de-motivate employees with a long list of goals which cannot all be accomplished.

For more complex tasks and activities, breaking down the long-term goals into shorter term targets can help make the task more manageable.


Is it clear to the employee why the goal is important and how it contributes to the broader objectives of the work unit as a whole?

Work goals should be consistent with work unit and University goals as well as the needs of the individual employee.

Component 3: professional learning needs

The final aspect of the PMDR review is the identification of each employee's specific professional learning needs for the next review period. Heads of Work Units provide HR Services with an annual summary of professional learning needs for their Work Unit to ensure that workshops on workplace skills, workplace health and safety, software, leadership and management identified through the PMDR process are delivered. Other professional learning needs are to be addressed by the work unit. Employees and supervisors need to ensure that what is documented as a professional learning need is implemented. Supervisors and employees may contact HR Services to discuss specific professional learning needs.

Component 4: career development plan

There have been significant changes in the workforce over time that has required organisations to adopt more flexible and responsive work practices and provide employees with new skills that may lead to new career opportunities. SCU has responded to these trends through the introduction of numerous strategic initiatives, programs and systems to enhance its ability to support career development.

Career development options

As part of the 'whole of working life' approach to the PMDR process, it is important to spend an appropriate amount of time during the PMDR review discussing career development options with employees.

In considering career development options, it is important to remember that different employees have different ways of learning; formal training programs are not the only option for career developmental needs - other options to consider include informal on-the-job development, coaching, mentoring, involvement in external/external University networks, further study or assignment to specific projects, programs or work areas. Supervisors are required to explore these different styles of learning at the PMDR review.

There are a significant variety of developmental options available to supervisors when working with employees during the PMDR review. These include, but are not limited to:

Development optionsDescription
Job enrichmentReview the employee's role to include more authority, autonomy etc.
Job enlargementAssign additional responsibilities to the current role.
Multi-skillingExpanding the range of areas of skill and knowledge that an employee has so that they are equipped to deal with a broader range of situations or issues within their current role.
On-the-job coachingImpart skills, knowledge and direction to develop the employee.
Special assignmentProvide for a specific assignment for completion in addition to regular job duties. May include project management, research or many other aspects.
Job rotation or transferMove the employee to another job to broaden the experience and their perspective.
Substitute assignmentLet the employee assume responsibility for others who are taking leave etc.
UnderstudyHave the employee work directly with another to eventually be a replacement.
MentoringEstablish a mentoring relationship where the person can draw on the experience of someone in a more senior position to review their current position and future plans.
Leadership opportunityLet the employee lead reviews, conduct presentations, and take on other team leader responsibilities.
Training assignmentProvide the opportunity for the person to play an active role in the development and delivery of internal training or arrange for cross-training to build credibility and confidence.
StudiesEncourage the employee to undertake any appropriate studies in line with the Special studies program policy.
Professional development programsAllow the employee to attend relevant conferences, workshops or training sessions to develop specific skills and expand networks.

Supervisors should not agree to a particular developmental option during the PMDR review if other professional learning priorities and budgetary considerations may influence the work unit's ability to meet some or more of these developmental needs. Don't promise what you can't deliver!

It is the supervisor's responsibility to realistically manage the employee's career expectations by contributing their perception of the employee's potential as well as their understanding of how the career development plans align with the Work Unit and the University's direction now and in the future. Supervisors need to consider whether the employee's career aspirations are realistic and consistent with their assessment of the employee's potential.

Whilst SCU supports employees' career development, it is the responsibility of individual employees to drive their own career development.

Further information

The HR Services website has further information for all staff on the PMDR process. The website includes policy information, a template PMDR plan for professional employees and the Academic staff portfolio for academic employees.

For further information about strategies for making the PMDR process effective, please contact your work unit's designated HR Consultant or contact HR Services on +61 2 66203195.