Performance enhancement processes - Information for leaders, managers and staff;

Performance enhancement should be an ongoing, continuous process that is not only seen as constructive but is in fact expected of leaders and managers by staff.  Staff will get the most out of performance enhancement by engaging in the relevant processes fully and openly.

Listed below are a range of existing processes and management practices through which good performance enhancement can be promulgated. 

Defining the role – take time and care whenever you are recruiting to a new role to define very clearly the nature and scope of the role.  Clarity around your expectations from the earliest possible opportunity will ensure that there is no room for ambiguity or doubt as to whether an individual is actually fulfilling your expectations later.   Think carefully when defining the ‘person specification’ to ensure that you are including the essential skills, knowledge, experience that will be required to fulfil the role, but also recognise the key attributes and the possible transferable skills and knowledge that individuals might bring.  For more information about defining the role follow this link: 

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Recruitment and Selection – be clear about how your recruitment and selection process will ‘test’ against your person specification and provide you and the selection panel with a clear view of the extent to which individuals really are equipped to fulfil the requirements of the role.  It is also important that the individuals being considered achieve a full and clear insight into the role you are offering!  The usual rule is – if in doubt, do not recruit!  For more information around effective Recruitment and Selection follow this link: .  You may also find this document, Recruiting the Right Person helpful.

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Induction the first few months in a role is a really crucial time for any new member of staff. Always remember that this is a two-way process and it is as important that the individual feels comfortable with their new role and work colleagues, as it is that their leaders, managers and colleagues feel comfortable with them.  

Managers should ensure that the individual has a thorough and appropriate induction, specifically structured so that it is relevant to what and who they will need to know to be effective in their new role.  Talk through the detail of their job description or role profile with them so that they are clear about the expectations of their role.  Recognise that they may need some time to ‘get up to speed’, and where appropriate make adjustments to initial workloads, e.g. for new academic staff.   For academic staff, individuals and their managers should ensure they are aware of the progression status of their role and of any progression due dates.

Introduce the individual to key information such as the Leadership Attributes and the Professional Behaviour Model, so that they are clear about our values and culture, and about our expectations around not just ‘what’ but ‘how’ we ‘do things around here’.    

More information about induction can be found here:

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One to ones are probably the most important facilitator of ongoing performance enhancement.  They provide the opportunity for individuals and their manager to regularly and informally review how things are going.  It is in this forum that feedback can, and should, be provided on a regular basis, both in terms of where things have gone well and where things can be improved.  A short guide to giving feedback can be found here.

All managers should arrange to have regular one to ones with their team members – the frequency may vary depending on the nature of the role but monthly meetings are normally acceptable.  This sample agenda (PDF, 48kB) for one to one meetings may be helpful in providing a suggested framework for one to one discussions with team members. 

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Initial Service Review is designed to support new members of staff while they are settling into the University as well as to give the University time to assess the suitability of the new member of staff for continued employment.  It provides a framework within which any areas of concern can be identified, addressed and resolved at an early stage in an individual’s career with us.  It is something of a cliché, but dealing with issues in a timely manner, and potentially when they are small, can save a huge amount of anxiety and disruption at a later stage.  Full guidance on how to make the most of this process can be found at:

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Staff Review and Development – The importance of the SR&D process cannot be overstated – it is just one aspect of performance enhancement but provides a structure that can be very helpful, is an accepted part of how we operate within the University, and gives time and space for exploration between the role holder and their manager. 

Every manager and member of staff should participate in the Staff Review and Development process.  It provides an opportunity to step back from the day to day pressures, and to look back; to review objectives and progress; celebrate success; explore where objectives have not been met; review support and barriers.  It is also is a forum for looking forward; where objectives for the coming period should be discussed, clarified and agreed, and where career aspirations and development opportunities can be explored. 

Where there concerns about an individual’s progress or achievement against objectives, the SR&D discussion should not normally be the first time that these are raised.  That said it is appropriate for managers to raise such issues within the SR&D, in an objective and unthreatening manner, and to explore fully the potential reasons and any development or support that might help, though the SR&D discussion should not dwell exclusively on such issues.  Where the issues are quite big a separate discussion outside of the SR&D may well be necessary. 

It is very important that academic staff and their leaders/managers are familiar with the criteria for promotion and progression.   Both should also be clear about the progression status of their role and any progression due dates.

Within the SR&D context, discussions should take place to ensure that individuals are guided towards a balanced workload that will enable them to take on the right sort of responsibilities to demonstrate that they are ready to progress. 

For both academic and support staff, if discussions reveal that individuals are trying but failing to perform adequately in particular areas it could just be that an individual has ‘lost their way’, perhaps as a result of a spate of unsuccessful grant applications; a prolonged period of leave; or just a dip in confidence.  Providing structure and clarity around expectations and objectives can be extremely helpful and get people ‘back on track’.  Information on setting expectations and objectives can be found here.

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Training and Development Opportunities/requirements for training and development should be regularly reviewed in the course of one to ones and particularly in the context of the SR&D.  Personal Development Plans can be developed in the course of the SR&D and provide a very useful tool to ensure that a wide range of support is identified, considered and provided to help individuals perform fully in their current role, or to equip them for their next career move.  

Useful hints on Developing Your Staff can be found here.

The University’s Staff Development ‘offering’ focusses on three main areas which we believe are strongly linked to organisational success: leadership and management development; academic development; and cultural change.  Full details of our current provision can be found at:   

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Career Management The University is committed to establishing a joined-up approach to career management, talent management, succession planning and the provision of training and development.

Progression and Promotion are important processes specifically for the development of the academic career here at Bristol.  Full details of the Academic Career Pathway Framework and supporting processes can be found at: . Academic leaders/managers and staff themselves should ensure they are clear about the progression status of their role and of any progression due dates.

For support staff, work is underway to develop career pathways and supporting development frameworks and information on these pathways can be found at: TBC

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Towards the end of your Career

Leaving employment to take up retirement is a major step for anyone.  The University offers courses to support those thinking a long way ahead to this major event as well as those much closer to the event:

SD1TYC - The 10-year countdown: Planning for a future without work (half-day)

Course description: The last ten years before leaving employment is a good time to plan for a secure financial future to suit your own personal circumstances. Financial decisions made at an early stage allow sufficient time for your plans to come to fruition in readiness for a life without work. This half-day seminar will cover information on financial planning, investments, occupational and State Pensions and AVCs, and is appropriate for staff of any age.  Partners are also welcome. A full-day seminar is available for those who are closer to leaving the University.

SD2NEW - New beginnings: Preparations for your future after leaving the University (full-day)

Course description: This seminar will be useful for those who are planning to leave the University and who have no plans for taking up future employment (i.e. choosing to retire). How do you adapt to your new life? What do you need to know about pensions and benefits before you leave? How do you keep yourself physically and psychologically fit as you adopt a new lifestyle?  Partners are also welcome to attend.

When dates are arranged, these courses would normally appear on the following web page:

Information around flexible retirement options for members of USS can be found at: TBC

And further information around flexible working or flexible retirement can be provided by your Faculty/Divisional HR Manager.

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