Reflect, Plan, Develop

Preparing yourself for RPD as a reviewer


The most valuable way to approach appraisal (RPD) is to divide the framework in to three stages; preparation, conversation and follow-up.  As a reviewee or reviewer, it is important that you prepare for RPD in advance, to ensure that the conversation is meaningful and any output captured is followed up appropriately.

It is important to agree a suitable time to hold the appraisal (RPD) conversation. Preparation can take time but it is worthwhile. In order for adequate preparation it would be reasonable to allow at least two weeks’. By keeping notes throughout the year, having ongoing conversations and sharing the responsibility for summarising the information gathered, it can make the process more manageable.

Try to plan appraisal (RPD) activities around other commitments to ensure there is time for a meaningful, un-rushed conversation. It should be held at an appropriate time of year for the school/department, once wider plans have been established. Depending on the needs of reviewee and reviewer, it may be agreed to have the appraisal (RPD) conversation in a formal setting free from interruptions, or alternatively an informal location over a coffee, but not in a place where conversations can be overheard.

Prepare the reviewee

If possible, meet with the reviewee prior to holding the RPD conversation to assess the following:

  • Do both reviewer and reviewee understand the process?
  • Are both aware of and read the guidance documents and RPD website?
  • Do both understand how they can prepare for the conversation?
  • Do both feel able to draft objectives, in line with the requirements of the role, school/department, University?
  • Is there anything in particular to be asked or raised in order to adequately prepare in advance?
  • Has it been considered if the reviewee requires any additional support or adjustments to effectively prepare for or engage with the conversation with regards to protected characteristics (as defined by the Equality Act 2010)?
  • How will the conversation be captured (electronic form in Staff Connect, RPD form and uploaded to Staff Connect, RPD form stored locally) and who will do this?

Prepare the situation

Having set up the meeting, ensure you both have approximately two hours available and book a suitable venue. Depending on how you have both agreed to hold the RPD conversation, this may require a private room that is free from interruptions and easily accessible for you both.

Prepare yourself

In order to align yourself to the preparation the reviewee will be undertaking, and to ensure you have prepared to fully support the RPD conversation, it can be useful to think of the three areas of RPD; Reflect, Plan, Develop:

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Refresh your memory and collate as much information you can about as much of the following in association with your reviewee:

  • The last RPD form and any associated documentation
  • Notes from ones to ones or termly discussions
  • Where required, collate any relevant data that may inform the appraisal (RPD) conversation, such as school/department statistics and promotion/re-grade applications. In all instances you should ensure that the reviewee is aware in advance of any information that you will use as part of the appraisal (RPD) conversation
  • Gather a cumulative view of the reviewee’s strengths and successes, including; the extent to which objectives were met, training completed or in progress, any work undertaken to help embed good equality, diversity and inclusivity practice in the workplace and any problems encountered that have not been fully resolved or objectives that have not been met
  • Has the reviewee completed all their mandatory training to ensure they are upholding the University’s safety, health and environmental, data protection and IS regulations commitments?

Depending on the nature of the role, a good starting point could be reviewing the information held on the most recent RPD/one to one conversation, in order to understand any objectives, goals or targets set. The following questions may also be helpful to prompt reflection:

  • What were your key priorities or objectives during the past 12 months? Summarise views on the outcomes of these priorities.
  • What were key successes during the last 12 months?
  • Is there anything which you could have done differently over the past 12 months?
  • What challenges were faced and what was learnt from these? What progress has occurred? What will you do differently this year?
  • What development activities have taken place during the last 12 months?

It is good practice to discuss any performance challenges which have occurred in the last 12 months, as these challenges will feed in to the discussions you will have about planning for the next 12 months and support or development required to help achieve your maximum potential. It is not anticipated that poor performance will be raised for the first time at an appraisal (RPD).

Poor performance should be discussed and addressed at the time it occurs, can be referred to in the appraisal (RPD) discussion to inform future planning, objectives and development


A key part of the RPD process is about planning objectives and priorities for the next 12 months.
The organisation highlights the importance of understanding shared goals, expectations and being aware of challenges the organisation may face, especially in an ever changing environment. This planning aspect should also prompt discussion about the resources, time and resilience needed to undertake roles effectively.

To kick-start the planning stage of the process, the following questions may helpful:

  • What are the priorities in the role for the next 12 months?
  • What potential challenges do you foresee in working towards these priorities?
  • What support do you feel might be needed in order to overcome these challenges?
  • What other areas of activity do you see for the role and the school/department, beyond the next 12 months?
  • How does my role contribute to the delivery of school/department and university objectives?

The resources outlined under Reflect/Introduction may also prove helpful when collating information to answer the above questions and facilitate the ‘plan’ part of the conversation. We also provide an Objectives template and a PDP template to assist with this.

The setting of objectives provides clarity on specific activities and expectations for delivery and when they need to be achieved by.  The discussion, agreement and setting of objectives, are importantt steps within RPD and will have valuable benefits for reviewee, line managers, schools/departments, and the University.  It can provide an opportunity to raise ideas and concerns, explore new ways of working, understand priorities at individual, team and organisational level, allocate time and resources effectively and reflect on progress to, identify development needs.

It is important that there is a meaningful two-way conversation and therefore it is beneficial for both reviewer and reviewee to have prepared some thoughts regarding objectives, based on the requirements of the role and the goals of the school/department, with some stretch and challenge for individuals.








The University recognises that its staff are a valuable resource. To motivate, develop and retain staff, the University acknowledges the importance of building a strong learning culture, within which members of staff are actively supported to maximise their potential, not only in the role they currently hold, but also for longer-term career and personal development.

It is the responsibility of us all,  reviewees, reviewers, managers and Heads of School/ Department, to identify learning and development needs and priorities and the RPD provides a framework to facilitate this.

Appraisal (RPD) is a mandatory process and each staff member must have at least one development discussion (RPD) in a 12 month cycle (identified as Sept – Sept , unless exempt).  

A Personal Development Plan (PDP) template is provided on the website for guidance and offers a structured framework to help when thinking about development.

Managers, Heads of School/Department and reviewers have an additional responsibility to consider developmental needs alongside those of the broader team(s) and should seek to balance and prioritise needs with school/department objectives, so that they are appropriately identified and set.

The University offers a wide range of development opportunities, both formal (such as leadership programmes and apprenticeships) and informal (such as secondments, shadowing). This section of the RPD framework provides guidance on preparing to discuss development and the following questions may be useful as a starting point:

  • What development has been completed during the last 12 months, or is currently underway?
  • What learning needshave become apparent within the last 12 months?
  • What personal or professional development does the reviewee need to undertake in order to progress/develop in their role/career over the next 12 months and beyond?

Information about specific development opportunities can be accessed via the Learning and Organisational Development website, and information on utilising the Apprenticeship Levy for current staff to undertake developmental qualifications can be found on the Apprenticeship website


For 2018/19 the RPD year will run 17 Sept 2018 – 15 Sept 2019


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Last Updated: 23/10/2018