SOAS University of London

Staff Development & Review

The Staff Development and Review Scheme, or SDR for short, is the scheme used by the School to allow staff members to discuss all aspects of their work with their manager on a regular basis. It is a two-way process in which staff can discuss their current role within the School in relation to Directorate and Department objectives. It is also an opportunity to discuss career and personal development goals.

The SDR Scheme is administered and monitored by the Staff Learning and Development Office. The SDR Scheme Procedure and the SDR Forms can be downloaded by clicking on the document links on the right.

  • What is it?

    SDR Scheme is for all staff, and is a formal annual review of work activity, achievements and personal development goals. It provides the opportunity to discuss your work activity, achievements, and plans as well as any particular issues of concern, with your line manager or their nominee. The meeting will encourage a process of self-reflection, discussion and forward planning and ensure that all individuals have a clear view of how their individual objectives fit in with Departmental, Directorate and School objectives. 

    The only data issued externally to the Directorate are the identified development and training needs which are recorded on the Personal Development Action Plan. These are sent to the Staff Learning and Development Office who record, monitor and take action on the needs, as appropriate.

    Any employee with staff responsibility must undertake a staff development and review meeting with each of their direct line reports generally annually, though in exceptional circumstances, such as research or maternity leave, depending on the duration and timing of the leave, the SDR meeting may be skipped or a briefer discussion may take place. However, the normal, full review will be carried out in the following and subsequent years.

  • Do I need to be prepared?

    It is important that in order to get maximum value from this scheme both the staff member (role holder) and Reviewer are prepared before entering into a SDR discussion. 

    • The staff member should prepare by reflecting on their work activities, achievements and particular issues of concern from the previous years and drafting out a number of objectives with related tasks looking forward. These will form the basis of much of the discussion during the review meeting. 
    • The reviewer will give two week's advance notice of the meeting, which will be arranged at a mutually convenient time and held in a room where there will be privacy and where there will be no disturbances.

    All staff members should read the SDR Scheme procedure. In addition training is available for Reviewers. Preparation on both sides leads to a fruitful and useful SDR discussion.

  • When does SDR take place?

    SDR only takes place once you have completed your probationary period. Before this time you are reviewed under the terms and conditions of the probationary process. Best practice indicates that SDR should be an annual process.

    Under normal circumstances SDR meetings will take place in the April - July period. This will allow managers to be reminded of when reviews need to take place, and allow the Staff Learning and Development office to record and monitor this information. Where staff members are on extended leave during this period they should arrange to have the SDR meeting either before or after the prescribed period, as appropriate.

  • What is discussed?

    The SDR meeting is a chance for the role holder to talk about all aspects of their work over the previous year (or cycle) and to discuss and agree plans moving forward.

    The SDR discussion comprises of two parts: 

    • Review of Work Activity: activity over the past year is reviewed against the previously agreed objectives (where available). The meeting will include discussion on achievements, constructive feedback on all aspects of the role holder's work, and any areas of concern (although this process is not a substitute for day-to-day management and nothing in this discussion should come as a surprise to either party).
    • Planning, objective setting and personal development planning: The meeting will agree up to 6 objectives and related tasks for the future years in relation to the key areas of the job role. During this discussion, training and development needs will be identified to ensure that these objectives can be met.

    Effective SDRs not only examine the past but look at the present and to future directions. Best practice indicates that SDRs should be conducted in line with departmental strategies in order that departmental staff are working towards similar objectives (with Departmental strategies linked to Directorate strategies, themselves linked to institutional objectives).