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PMDR for supervisors

What is SCU's performance management development review (PMDR)?

1. SCU is committed to creating a high performing organisation through recruitment, development and retention of skilled, engaged and valued employee as articulated in the SCU Strategic Plan 2016-2020.

2. Performance Management Development and Review (PMDR) at SCU is a collaborative partnership between supervisors and employees designed to energise people, increase productivity, improve efficiency and create a work environment committed to continuous improvement.

SCU's expectations of supervisors

3. SCU expects supervisors to be able to manage the PMDR process for their employees. To support this expectation, all supervisors complete a professional learning program on the PMDR process.

4. Supervisors are expected to introduce new employees to the PMDR process as part of their Induction to their University role. Supervisors are expected to provide feedback for employee on a regular basis. As such, PMDR should not be an isolated annual event but part of ongoing constructive conversation between supervisors and employees.

Characteristics of highly effective performance management processes

5. Performance management processes significantly impact individual and organisational development if the following characteristics are present:

  1. The supervisor's commitment to the PMDR process;
  2. An integrated approach to the PMDR cycle;
  3. An established link between the employee's performance with the work unit and SCU's performance;
  4. The provision of ongoing regular feedback and dialogue between the supervisor and employee;
  5. The delivery of follow-up actions steps; and
  6. A well conducted PMDR review.

Characteristic 1: The supervisor's commitment to the PMDR process

6. The PMDR process is successful if supervisors demonstrate during the PMDR review that the PMDR process is a valuable tool and a real priority. Best practice research on performance management systems indicate that PMDR succeeds or fails on the goodwill and skills of supervisors and their colleagues at all levels across organisations. Consequently, the supervisor's role in the delivery of good individual performance and development is paramount. It is central to their role as a supervisor.

7. Supervisors at SCU are expected to participate in PMDR workshops offered by HR Services to enhance their appreciation of the significance of the PMDR process.

8. The key benefits of the PMDR process are to:

  • Improve organisational and employee performance;
  • Enhance job satisfaction;
  • Enable staff to feel valued and appreciated;
  • Advance career development by setting realistic goals;
  • Identify and commit to training needs;
  • Provide constructive feedback;
  • Provide an opportunity for upward feedback; and
  • Maintain accurate records of performance outcomes.

9. Supervisors should have no more than 20 employees reporting to them for PMDR purposes. The Head of Work Unit must implement alternative arrangements if this situation arises. Advice and support concerning proposed alternative arrangements may be obtained from HR Services.

Characteristic 2: an integrated approach to PMDR

10. To be effective, PMDR must be integrated with other organisational processes and must be part of an ongoing commitment to improve performance. SCU's PMDR process is designed to:

  • Create simple connections between performance, career development and succession;
  • Track organisational capability;
  • Enable employees to know exactly what is expected of them and to reliably measure their progression;
  • Allow employees to understand their career development process; and
  • Afford employees the opportunity to contribute in meaningful ways to SCU's performance.

11. Interconnection of key organisational performance components comprises:

Southern Cross University - Working Life Model

    SCU Working Life Model

12. SCU has the following programs that are specifically linked to the PMDR process:

  • Rewards program for professional employees: Nominations require the professional employee's PMDR plan for the relevant year, identifying and demonstrating the relevant outstanding performance.
  • Academic promotions: Where an academic employee applies for promotion, applications must be accompanied by copies of the signed PMDR plan for the previous three years.
  • Special studies program policy: Decisions in relation to special studies program applications will take account information contained in the PMDR plans normally for the three years prior to the call for applications.

Characteristic 3: The link between individual and organisational performance

Annual planning processes

13. SCU's success depends on employees understanding its vision, values and strategies to enable work units and individuals to work cohesively to achieve common outcomes. At SCU these goals and values are articulated in the SCU Strategic Plan 2016-2020 which is supported by work units' annual operational planning processes. Employees are encouraged to participate in the development of their work unit's annual planning processes. This participation builds a common understanding of team and individual direction.

14. Supervisors are expected to ensure employees understand the link between their work and the goals and values reflected in the Work Unit Plan and the SCU Strategic Plan.

SCU Annual Planning Processes

SCUStrategic Plan
Administrative Unit
Core Activities
Functional Plans
Service Level Plans
Work UnitOperational Plans
(including the employee capabilities needed to deliver on the plan)
(including individual professional learning plans & career development plans)

PMDR review

15. Employees who understand how their separate roles collectively impact their work unit's success are often more motivated and engaged. Supervisors are encouraged to reiterate and reinforce this connection during the PMDR process. In preparing for the PMDR process, supervisors should meet with their managers to discuss whether there is any additional information or key messages relating to the work unit's direction (over and above information communicated during the planning processes), that could be appropriately shared with the employee during the review. Sharing appropriate operational and strategic information with employee during the PMDR review generates a sense of being valued and included. At this stage, management teams should also be considering the priority professional learning needs that need to be addressed in order for the work unit to deliver on its objectives over the next 12 month period. This information should also be communicated to staff and inform discussions on individual professional learning needs.

Characteristic 4: Ongoing regular feedback and two-way dialogue

The PMDR process is not an opportunity to have difficult, overdue performance discussions

16. The PMDR review is an opportunity to provide positive feedback and direction to employee. If the PMDR review is regarded as a once-off annual opportunity to address ongoing difficult performance issues or to raise a significant performance issue for the first time, the process will be feared and lose its motivational impact. There should be no surprises during the PMDR review! Difficult performance issues should be addressed as they arise, during the course of the year. If a PMDR review gets hindered by a difficult performance issue, it may be appropriate to use the meeting as an opportunity to focus on the specific issue and re-schedule the PMDR review. However, if there are ongoing performance issues, these need to be discussed during the PMDR review and recorded on the PMDR plan.

17. Supervisors are encouraged to structure the PMDR review along the lines of the PMDR plan to cover the following four components:

  1. Review of achievements;
  2. Goals for next review period;
  3. Professional learning needs; and
  4. Career development plan.

Recording an entire year's worth of work

18. Employees who do not participate in regular ongoing feedback dialogues with their supervisors and regard the annual PMDR review as the only opportunity to have difficult performance discussions, may be distracted from reviewing the entire year's worth of work. Additionally, unless recorded in some manner, it may be difficult for employees to recall all of their achievements over the past review period. Regular quarterly or tri-annual feedback dialogues between supervisors and employees create an opportunity to 'bookmark' the entire year's worth of work. Supervisors are encouraged to diarise regular informal meetings with employees throughout the review period for this purpose.

Two-way dialogue is preferential to measurements and ratings

19. Employees can easily be overwhelmed by unnecessary complex or detailed PMDR documentation or regard the process as a time consuming exercise that simply fulfils operational requirements. The value of the PMDR process is in the dialogue between supervisor and employee offering an opportunity to provide feedback, clarify expectations and jointly commit to plans for the following 12 month period.

20. SCU's PMDR plans for professional and academic staff require staff to provide information on four components:

  1. Review of achievements;
  2. Goals for next review period;
  3. Professional learning needs; and
  4. Career development plan.

21. Employees sometimes have an over-expectation of the PMDR plan. The plan is intended as a generic framework that cannot compensate for ongoing dialogue and feedback, insufficient PMDR preparation or poorly conducted PMDR reviews.

Two-way dialogue - opportunity for upward feedback

22. The PMDR review is an opportunity for supervisors to demonstrate leadership by engaging in a two way discussion and appreciating their own professional development as supervisors. During the PMDR review, supervisors need to be open and responsive to upward feedback. Prior to the PMDR review, supervisors are encouraged to consider what may be necessary and important to acknowledge to the employee at the review about their developmental needs as supervisors.

Characteristic 5: delivery on follow-up actions steps

23. The credibility of each PMDR process depends on the delivery of action steps agreed at previous PMDR reviews. Understandably, if some or all of the action steps agreed at a previous PMDR review are not delivered, the PMDR process may be regarded with some degree of scepticism. Supervisors and employees should review incomplete actions and commit to appropriate action for the next 12 month period

Characteristic 6: Well conducted PMDR reviews

Creating a safe and confidential space

24. PMDR reviews should be conducted in an environment where there are no distractions and preferably not across a desk.

25. At the start of the PMDR review, supervisors are expected to:

  • Explain the purpose and benefits of the PMDR process;
  • Mention that the review is an opportunity to discuss issues in a safe and confidential manner;
  • Emphasise the two-way nature of the discussion and the opportunity for upward feedback;
  • Review and discuss any action steps not taken since the previous PMDR review; and
  • Discuss the work unit's strategic and operational direction and how this will impact the staff member during the next review period.

Different communication styles

26. Supervisors are expected to understand their distinct communication styles; if positive feedback is seldom given to employees, the PMDR review is an opportunity to provide this. If positive feedback or compliments are too readily given, this is an opportunity to balance feedback in a more meaningful way.

27. During the review, supervisors must ensure that the employee has an equal amount of opportunity to raise and discuss issues. Using active listening skills and awareness of verbal and non-verbal cues, supervisors need to adjust their communication styles to build rapport and trust with employees to reach a shared understanding.

Allow sufficient time and structure the PMDR review

28. Ensure that an appropriate amount of time (at least 60 minutes) is allocated for each PMDR review. During the PMDR review, supervisors are encouraged to structure the review to ensure that equal amounts of time are spent on all four components of the PMDR process.

Provide constructive feedback

29. One of the most critical skills in the PMDR process is the provision of effective feedback. Feedback of a positive nature is essential to reinforce and motivate further performance. Feedback that highlights performance shortfalls is also important to ensure that under-performance is minimised and problems are quickly addressed.

30. Giving performance feedback is one of the most critical and difficult, yet often underdeveloped and undervalued, interpersonal skills in the workplace. Identifying performance shortfalls tends to be the most difficult challenge for supervisors, and understandably so. Feedback in the form of careless criticism can cause serious damage to relationships and have significant impact on morale. Although it is perceived to be easier, even positive feedback can result in missed opportunities to reinforce positive behaviour if not carefully planned and delivered.

31. Prior to the PMDR review, supervisors should participate in PMDR training to develop the skills necessary for the provision of constructive feedback. Supervisors may also choose to discuss with their managers or their work unit's designated HR Consultant some of the likely anticipated issues and possible outcomes that could arise during specific PMDR reviews.

32. Prior to the PMDR review, consider what feedback is appropriate for employees having regard to the following principles:

Principles of providing constructive feedback (incorporating the S-B-I Feedback Framework - situation, behaviour, impact)

  • Be specific, clear and descriptive. Think about what you want to say and how you want to say it. By giving specific feedback about what you observed you show that you are attentive and interested.
  • Emphasise the positive. Always manage the self esteem of the individual. Most people are responsive to encouragement, even when they are receiving developmental feedback.
  • Focus on the behaviour and the behaviour that can be changed. Give feedback that describes behaviour rather than personal attributes. By remaining focused on behaviour or skills you are able to remain objective and non-judgmental.
  • Be timely. Give the feedback at the time of action or as soon as practical. Feedback should be ongoing and a way that you interact with people daily. Do not leave developmental feedback until the annual performance appraisal.
  • Give balanced feedback. Most people want positive and developmental feedback so that they know clearly how they are progressing. They want to know what to continue doing and what they need to improve.
  • Developmental feedback should be given in private. Positive feedback can be given in private and public.
  • Consider what the feedback says about you as a coach. Listen to yourself giving feedback.
  • Offer assistance to help the staff member develop. Suggest meeting regularly to monitor performance and give further feedback on the performance.
  • Have an open door. Be approachable for future discussion/questions.