Reflect, Plan, Develop

Frequently asked questions


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Why is the appraisal scheme called Reflect, Plan, Develop: making connections?

The University wanted to develop an appraisal framework that supports our staff in having meaningful conversations that are integrated with the rest of our work. 

The name of the framework therefore reflects the three key areas that are the basis of appraisal conversations; reflecting on what has happened over the last 12 months, planning for the next 12 months and identifying and agreeing development opportunities.

Who should have an RPD conversation?

Each staff member on a contract of employment must have at least one RPD conversation per year. Exceptions to this are;

  • Staff who are currently going through a non-academic probationary period; in this instance your probation discussions replace your RPD conversation. Once probation is completed, it is not necessary to wait a year before introducing an RPD conversation. RPD should be a natural progression from Probation and undertaken at an appropriate time
  • GTA’s, Ambassadors, HPL’s, External Examiners and Timesheet staff who work infrequently (schools/departments may wish to hold an RPD with those who work more regularly and this is at their discretion)
  • Staff on maternity leave, study leave, career breaks or long term sickness

If you are not sure if you (or your reviewee) should be exempt, please contact your HR Employee Relations Adviser or an L&OD Adviser.

Am I a reviewee or reviewer?

Every member of staff is a reviewee.

Reviewers are those members of staff with an additional responsibility for ensuring an appraisal (RPD) conversation happens and any actions are followed up. You may be assigned a reviewee but not directly line manage them so it is important to share information with key members of staff, where permission has been given by the reviewee, to fully realise the benefits of using the RPD framework.

Why should I have an RPD conversation?

Appraisal (RPD) is a mandatory process within the University. There are many benefits in having an appraisal conversation under the RPD framework just some of which are detailed below:

For the University:

  • Appraisal discussions can help build relationships between staff and managers, allowing for mutual agreement and understanding of expectations and objectives
  • It develops leadership experience and skills in our managers and a greater understanding of our staff and their roles within the workforce
  • It enables the delivery of institutional plans and goals through a focus on individuals' activity
  • We gain invaluable information from staff, to better inform the planning and direction of the University
  • RPD promotes good employee relations and supports employee engagement, in line with the University's values and expectations
  • It promotes and supports the health and wellbeing of our staff, minimising levels of turnover, stress and absence
  • RPD is a flexible appraisal framework which covers the on-going needs of all staff

For you as a line manager

  • Engaging staff members in appraisal (RPD) conversations develop leadership experience and an opportunity to develop management skills
  • The discussions can be a catalyst to improving working relationships, through developing an understanding of individuals and their roles, providing a chance to talk about performance and recognising successes
  • It allows you to discuss and agree objectives fro each individual within your team for the coming year
  • Through ensuring your staff engage with the appraisal framework of RPD, you are better able to plan and prioritise your team objectives and resources, ensuring that the team are working cohesively to meet your school/departmental plans

For you as a staff member:

  • The appraisal (RPD) conversation allows you time to reflect on your role, your successes and challenges and your development and career aspirations
  • It allows you to discuss, agree and understand the objectives and expectations being placed on you fr the coming year
  • It improves working relationships through communication, developing a better understanding of expectations from your role and providing a chance to establish clear goals
  • It provides an opportunity for feedbck and input into the wider goals of your team, school or department.

For you as a reviewer:

An RPD reviewer may not automatically be the line manager of a reviewee. For instance, in the case of academic reviewers, these will often be colleagues. In either instance, there are many benefits you can gain as an RPD reviewer:

  • You can build working relationships with colleagues, through developing an understanding of others, their roles and interests.
  • It creates the opportunity to stimulate ideas and possible collaborations with others
  • Being an RPD reviewer allows you the opportunity to contribute to the University and to develop colleagues and/or provide peer mentoring, which is indicated as a criterion when being considered for promotion
  • Becoming an RPD reviewer may also be part of your own personal development plan, enabling you the opportunity to develop skills and behaviours, such as leadership and management skills, effective communication and active listening, that can then be applied to your own career development
  • It enables you to strengthen relationships across the school/department and wider University.

What benefit does preparing for the conversation provide when it can be time consuming?

All of us can find meetings that have no clear result or output frustrating. To make the most effective use of the time set aside for your RPD conversation, and to ensure the outputs are clear, achievable and meaningful, it is important that those involved take the time to prepare.

Consider the three areas of the conversation (reflect, plan, develop) and the key points you wish to address within these, that are relevant to you and your role. A selection of guidance documents has been put together to support you in doing this.

How is my appraisal (RPD) conversation recorded?

Your appraisal (RPD) conversation can be recorded on the electronic form embedded in Staff Connect or by using the word templates provided on these webpages. Using the template forms ensures that a record is kept of agreed objectives or actions identified, which can be referred back to when necessary. The Objectives Form is a beneficial supplement to the appraisal (RPD) form allowing greater detail on objectives set and the Personal Development Plan and Individual Research Plan are additional resources that may be helpful both when preparing for and having the conversation itself and are valuable to progress performance and development discussions throughout the year.  

The RPD Form should be a succinct summary of the key points discussed and any actions agreed for each area of the conversation. As such the Form is divded into three sections, one each for reflect, plan and develop.More detailed information about objectives, goals, expectations and outputs can be outlined on the associated templates.

We recommend that you aim to complete the form soon after the appraisal (RPD) conversation (ideally within a week). It can then be signed, uploaded as a pdf and approved on Staff Connect or stored locally (ensuring GDPR compliance).

Why is my appraisal (RPD) conversation not linked to promotion, reward or salary increase when all feedback on my work is positive?

The University has not developed a direct and automatic link between appraisal (RPD) and reward processes.  This is for a number of reasons, including the complexity of process needed to fairly review and assess who should be rewarded, on what level, and for what reason, and recognising that the University is made up of staff who carry our roles which are very different in nature.

The RPD framework does encourage staff to make connections between other processes though. Therefore, any areas of your appraisal (RPD) conversation may be used as part of an application for promotion, advancement, re-grade, salary award or one-off payment.  Applications will continue to be considered within processes that are separate to appraisal (RPD) conversations.

What do I do if I disagree with the reviewer I’m allocated?

If you are unhappy with any part of the appraisal (RPD) framework, the same resolution and reconciliation processes used by the University for any employment relations issues, should be followed.

Initially, issues should be resolved informally by discussing your concerns with the person who has allocated your reviewer where possible. The University also has an in-house mediation service to support resolution of issues, where appropriate.

What do I do if I disagree with any outcomes of the conversation?

If you are unhappy with any discussions that take place, initially issues should be discussed and where possible resolved informally with the person allocated as your reviewer. If issues persist and cannot be resolved between reviewee and reviewer, the same resolution and reconciliation process used by the University for any employment relations issues should be followed.

The University also has an in-house mediation service to support this, where appropriate.

I want a review more than once a year – what can I do?

The University expects us all to have an appraisal (RPD) conversation at least once a year, but more frequent conversations are encouraged.  If you want to meet with your reviewer or reviewee more than once a year, this can be discussed and agreed locally between the individuals involved in the process.

In Staff Connect there is the option to log annual or mid-year discussions, so effectively you can store information related to a mid year review, if you complete one.

I need to have a conversation that could be contentious and difficult.  What support is there for me as a reviewer?

An appraisal (RPD) is not the place to raise issues and concerns for the first time. However, a range of guidance documents have been developed with the intention of providing support to both reviewers and reviewees on what to discuss in the three areas (reflect, plan, develop), as well as on how to have the discussion.

In addition, the Leadership Foundation, in partnership with Leicester University, has developed some guidance and an example video which you may find useful.

It is important to remember, though, that the purpose of the appraisal (RPD) conversation is not to raise poor performance for the first time. Where there are performance issues, these should be dealt with under the Performance Improvement policy and procedure. Any performance issues that have been discussed and addressed throughout the year should form part of the reflection of the previous year as a well rounded review. The appraisal (RPD) conversation should build on other on-going conversations you will have had with staff throughout the year and compliment these.

If there are issues you would like to address, then please contact your designated HR representative; their contact information can be found on the Who to Contact section of the main HR website.

Will my past RPD's be available for others to request to view?

No, only RPD conversations documented and recorded after 17 Sept 2018 will be available for review by line mangers and the management hierarchy within your school/department. Outside of your school or department only where an Access Request form is submitted and approved.

What happens if I am exempt from having an RPD?

If you are exempt from appraisal (RPD), but still feel it would be beneficial to have a development discussion with your relevant line manager, please talk to them directly about the potential to arrange a discussion. 

What types of situations might require access to view an RPD document (or parts of)?

Examples of the types of situations which might apply are;

  • To address ill health concerns, especially to help inform any reasonable adjustments to support staff members
  • To support applications for pay awards or Job description changes
  • To assist investigations into grievances raised

Will I be notified if an access request has been made to view my RPD?

Yes, you will be informed that a request has been made by a third party.


How do I upload the final documentation to Staff Connect and get the RPD authorised

We have ‘how-to’ guides outlining the processes required to upload relevant documentation to Staff Connect and gain authorisations by the parties involved  available here

I have been requested to authorise my RPD – what does this mean?

As a reviewee, you will be required to authorise, this is the term used in Staff Connect to confirm the conversation has taken place and any records uploaded are an accurate reflection of the converstaion.

You should not authorise your appraisal (RPD) record until you have had the conversation, agreed all aspects with your reviewer and any relevant documentation has been signed and uploaded to Staff Connect.

We have ‘how-to’ guides outlining the processes required to upload relevant documentation to Staff Connect and gain authorisations by the parties involved available here

I’ve heard that performance should not be discussed within an appraisal (RPD) discussion – is this true?

No – it is perfectly acceptable to discuss performance levels as part of the reflection of a whole years perofmance and contribution. During the reflection discussion it is imporatnt that challenges which have occurred, as well as successes achieved, will be discussed. These elements are important to feed into the subsequent planning and development discussions.

It is however, not the time to be undertaking performance management of an individual. Any performance issues which arise during the year should be discussed and addressed at the time they occur.

How do I upload the final documentation to Staff Connect and get the appraisal (RPD) authorised

We have ‘how-to’ guides outlining the processes required to upload relevant documentation to Staff Connect and gain authorisations by the parties involved  available here

I don’t see the benefit of having an appraisal (RPD) conversation – must I have one?

RPD is the University's framework for appraisal and is mandatory, as such everyone must engage with at least one discussion per year related to their role, the expectations and requirements for the coming year, to identify any support and development required to effectively carry out that role and to review the previous years perfomance and contribution.

The RPD framework allows for very flexible conversations and it is hoped that all staff find the process valuable, motivating and support you to deliver the next years activity. If you are unsure what value your discussion will have, please talk with your reviewer to determine how best the conversation can be managed to produce meaningful outcomes for you as well as your reviewer, remember training is available which helps reviewer and reviewee get the most from the appraisal (RPD) process.




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Last Updated: 11/12/2018