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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 

 

Process


  1. Do I need to participate in a Senior Staff Appraisal (MAX)?
  2. Is the Senior Staff Appraisal (MAX) just a form filling exercise?
  3. Do all senior member of staff have to participate in MAX reviews?
  4. What are the benefits of a Senior Staff Appraisal (MAX)?
  5. How is this process different from how I currently do things?
  6. Is Senior Staff Appraisal (MAX) relevant for me, I’ve been doing my role for years?
  7. I regularly discuss how things are going - do I still need a Senior Staff Appraisal (MAX)?
  8. Do I have to complete my Senior Staff Appraisal (MAX) online, or can I use the paper system?
  9. What training is involved?
  10. Do I have to attend training?
  11. I’ll be retiring in the near future, does Senior Staff Appraisal (MAX) apply to me?
  12. How are appraisers chosen - can my appraiser be changed?
  13. I understand that objectives are part of the Senior Staff Appraisal (MAX) process, I set my own targets over a two to three year period - how can I document objectives on an annual basis?
  14. What is the difference between Strategic and Local Objectives?
  15. When setting objectives, how can I ensure they are at the same level of stretch as others across the MAX population? How can we benchmark our work in this area?
  16. As an appraiser, I find it difficult when a member of staff records their level of performance higher than I perceive it to be.  How should I address this type of situation?
  17. How does promotion and progression fit with Senior Staff Appraisal (MAX)?
  18. I’m concerned that my Senior Staff Appraisal (MAX) will be used outside the meeting for performance management purposes

System


  1. I’m worried about who can see my data on the new system – what security measures are in place?
  2. How do I put a spellchecker on?
  3. Can I copy and paste?
  4. My manager can't see my form?
  5. What does 'Actions overdue' means?
  6. How do I change the font size?

 

PROCESS


1. Do I need to participate in a Senior Staff Appraisal (MAX)?

Every member of senior staff should participate in the process. It provides an opportunity to step back, review objectives and progress and celebrate success where appropriate.

The Senior Staff Appraisal (MAX) is also a process 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.

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2. Is the Senior Staff Appraisal (MAX) just a form filling exercise?
No, it is the conversation that is key, the forms are merely a way to help you to structure and record that conversation.

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3. Do all senior member of staff have to participate in MAX reviews?

Yes, contractually all senior staff are required to participate in the MAX process

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4. What are the benefits of Senior Staff Appraisal (MAX)?
The process of reflection and discussion can be powerful however, it does require time and engagement to produce real results. The process is not the sole responsibility of the appraiser or appraisee; it needs to be seen as a joint, positive and constructive dialogue if it is to achieve the maximum impact. It should provide the opportunity for the appraisee and the appraiser to talk openly.

As a result people should:

  • Know and understand what is expected of them
  • Be supported by the institution to learn and develop in order to meet these expectations
  • Be given feedback on how they are doing
  • Discuss and find joint solutions to barriers that may emerge such as time, resources, relationships and management
  • Have the opportunity to discuss and contribute to individual and team aims and objectives 
  • See how what they do fits into a bigger picture together with the aims and values of the University 
  • Take positive steps to plan for wider career aspirations

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5. How is this process different from how I currently do things?
The changes will be minimal - you’ll use the online system to record your conversations and agreed objectives, instead of paper forms - the online format is exactly the same as the paper form.

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6. Is Senior Staff Appraisal (MAX) relevant for me, I’ve been doing my role for years?
For any member of staff, at whatever stage of their career, being effective in your role includes includes being clear about your objectives and the outcomes expected. It is about understanding how you are perceived, where your strengths lie and where there are areas you might develop further. In the current uncertain environment, we have identified the strategic need to be ‘nimble-footed’ i.e. to be able to mobilise our staff to meet emerging opportunities and challenges as they arise, whilst also keeping our eye on the longer term objectives. In this context, ensuring all of us are clear about current, emerging and changing expectations, and providing support to enable all of us to perform to a high level, will be critical.

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7. I regularly discuss how things are going - do I still need a Senior Staff Appraisal (MAX)?
Yes, the process provides you with the context, process and structure upon which those more regular conversations can build. The process provides an opportunity to step back and to engage in reflection and planning. Some of this takes place before the meeting, some immediately afterwards and then some throughout the year in the form of mid-year reviews. Whilst a meeting takes place on a particular date, the process should be seen as more ongoing and fluid than this.

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8. Do I have to complete my Senior Staff Appraisal (MAX) online, or can I use the paper system?

In order for the online system to work effectively, it requires all senior staff to participate so relevant information can be extracted and other manual processes phased out. For example, on an annual basis, faculties and directorates are required to submit a manually completed spread sheet detailing who has had their appraisal review and when. By migrating this online for senior staff, this information will be available electronically and reduces the effort required by faculties and directorates

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9. What training is involved?
The new online system is intuitive and simple to use. There is online guidance| and it is considered that detailed training will not be required, although there will be opportunities to come and look at the system|, ask questions and have a practice. Should any specific help and support be required then please ask your HR partner or a member of the L&D team.

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10. Do I have to attend training?
It is considered that the online system is intuitive and that the online guidance will be sufficient for most people. During Spring 2014, there will be a development programme which will detail the responsibilities of appraisers. Further information will be provided in due course.

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11. I’ll be retiring in the near future, does Senior Staff Appraisal (MAX) apply to me?
Yes – it is important that you don’t feel in any way unclear about where to focus your efforts leading up to your leaving date, and the conversation provides a forum to discuss and agree appropriate objectives, even over the relatively short-term. In fact, there may be some particularly important issues to discuss, including matters such as handover and transfer of knowledge. The Senior Staff Appraisal (MAX) process will also give you the opportunity to review the contribution you have made to both your role and the University.

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12. How are appraisers chosen - can my appraiser be changed?
For professional services staff, your Appraiser will usually be your line manager. For academic staff, Appraisers will be chosen and allocated to appraisee by the Head of School and will be drawn from a pool of senior, trained staff from within the School/Faculty. Within Schools, it will be an expectation that all professorial staff will form part of that potential pool of appraisers.

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13. I understand that objectives are part of the Senior Staff Appriasal (MAX) process, I set my own targets over a two to three year period - how can I document objectives on an annual basis?
The process requires a review of past objectives and the setting of objectives for the coming period. The online system is flexible and it allows objectives to be developed, amended and carried forward from one year to the next - you can set and monitor objectives over any reasonable timeframe, but should focus on the keu milestones to be acheived during the 12 month period.

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14. What is the difference between Strategic and Local Objectives?

As senior members of staff, it is expected that individuals will be leading/supporting university-wide strategies and areas of improvement. Strategic objectives focus on organisational priorities for the longer term. There are a number of categories that strategic objectives may come under including; strategic leadership, financial planning and management etc. Therefore, have a look at the strategic plan and other key strategies to inform the setting of strategic objectives, Key areas of focus are likely to link to strategic themes such as ‘ Student Experience’ or ‘University League Tables’.

Local Objectives are focused more at Department/Team levels and how individual staff will make improvements in these areas, which in turn can support both individual growth and that of the organisation. So, in summary, it is common for individual staff in the same directorate to have similar strategic objectives i.e. supporting an overarching goal; Local objectives, however, will be more specific to individuals.

For more information refer to the Senior Staff Appraisal (MAX) Guidance notes| where page 4 provides information on the scope and definition of strategic and local objectives. Alternatively, take a look at the following examples of possible strategic and local objectives|.

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15. When setting objectives, how can I ensure they are at the same level of stretch as others across the MAX population? How can we benchmark our work in this area?

This is a common concern held by Appraisers and there are no absolute rules to govern this, but the following should be considered in supporting professional judgements and discussions between Appraisers and Appraisees.

As appraisals (MAX reviews) are owned by the Appraisee and objectives should be agreed by both the appraisee and appraiser, it is important to ensure you have an open and honest discussion about what feels reasonable to meet the needs of the individual, the department and the organisation recognising the seniority of the individual concerned and their expected level of contribution.

Appraisers should ensure that agreed objectives are SMART and are regularly reviewed and discussed with Appraisees.  Benchmarking discussions could be set up with other appraisers in your department or faculty to discuss the type and level of objectives that are being set with colleagues.  Be mindful of what information is acceptable to share in more open forums. Faculty Managers and/or HR Partners should be able to facilitate such sessions should you have any concerns.

Finally it is the role of POD centrally, led by HR Partners to sample the objective setting process across the university. This will ensure that no one Faculty or Department is being overly stretching or not setting objectives to a reasonable standard. Therefore appraiser’s should be happy that any anomalies will be identified by POD, but if there are any concerns these should be brought to the attention of the relevant HR Partner.

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16. As an appraiser, I find it difficult when a member of staff records their level of performance higher than I perceive it to be.  How should I address this type of situation?

Good working relationships between Appraisers and Appraisees are integral to the effective performance of individuals and the organisation. Therefore, it is important for the university to support staff in dealing with potentially challenging situations.

One way to minimise the chances of this scenario is to ensure that regular one to ones are conducted, whereby progress can be discussed. The mid-year review is important for both parties, discussing whether the appraisee is ‘on-track’ or whether further work is required to help ensure a good appraisal rating at year-end. This helps to avoid any year-end surprises. If there are concerns, they should be raised in a timely manner and not left until the end of the year.

Under the MAX process, managers will view, in advance, what the individual deems to be their level of performance for the year. If this differs from the appraiser’s view then there is time before the meeting to consider why there may be a difference in opinion and to consider how this will be broached during the meeting. The appraiser should ensure that there are relevant examples which illustrate why there may be a difference in opinion and this should be explored during the meeting before agreement is reached on the final outcome.

When you meet with your Appraisee to have this conversation, remember to keep an open mind and ask your Appraisee for their rationale of their rating.  There may be issues you were not aware of or have forgotten. Be clear with the rationale for your opinion and provide evidence and examples to justify your position.

Where issues cannot be resolved ask your HR Partner for support.  A more objective opinion could be helpful and should support the Appraisee / Appraiser working relationship to continue to be effective.

Any learning from this situation should be used to inform the process the following year e.g. the use of SMART objectives to ensure no misunderstanding of what good performance will look like.

Potentially challenging situations like this require appraisers to have advanced communication skills around managing conversations. If as a manager you feel you would benefit from some development in this area, the Learning and Development Team in POD run a number of sessions and have supportive guides which will help you in these situations.

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17. How does promotion and progression fit with Senior Staff Appraisal (MAX)?
Your Senior Staff Appraisal (MAX) is a good opportunity to have open and honest discussions on important issues such as eligibility for progression/promotion, career development, aspirations/opportunities, development needs, and any enablers and barriers to performance. Individuals should take the opportunity to be frank about concerns, reservations, or perceived development needs to enable their appraiser to provide relevant support.

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18. I’m concerned that my Senior Staff Appraisal (MAX) will be used outside the meeting for performance management purposes
The purpose of the review is to enable you and your appraiser to discuss, agree and document your contribution over the past year and your objectives for the coming 12 months.

The conversation should not be the place where issues of poor performance are discussed for the first time. Should any issues be identified then discussion should be held separately in order to resolve those aspects.

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SYSTEM

 

1. I’m worried about who can see my data on the new system – what security measures are in place?
The data on the system is hosted via a trusted external supplier, with the requirement to provide robust security of data. The supplier provides a similar service to many UK universities and other public bodies as well as Universities across the world.

The data is owned by the appraisee and all information is kept private and confidential to them. There will be instances, however, where the information will be shared (for instance, with the appraiser, when the objectives are agreed by the two parties). The appraiser's manager may also be party to the information where considered relevant.

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2. How do I put a spellchecker on?

Depending on the Internet browser you are using, you will need to switch on the spell checker. Below are some guidelines on the different browsers:

Chrome
Go to Settings > Advanced settings > Languages > Languages and Spellchecker Settings.  Ensure ‘Enable spellchecking’ is ticked.

Internet Explorer
Internet explorer does not have a built in spell checker, however add-ons can be added to the browser, providing a spell checker.  'ieSpell' is an example of a spell checker add-on. Navigate on the website to the right-hand side of the page and click download. Choose one of the options to download, and then a popup will appear at the bottom of the screen – click Run and then install the add-on. 

Firefox
Click on the orange Firefox tab on the left-hand corner of the screen. Go to Options > Advanced and ensure ‘Check my spelling as I type’ is clicked.

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3. Can I copy and paste?

Yes you can copy and paste from any text material to the simitive system.

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4. My manager can't see my form?

Make sure you have pressed 'Share and close' rather than 'Save and close'. To check this, scroll to the top of the MAX form and the third box 'share' should be green and have the word 'completed' inserted.

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5. What does 'Actions overdue' means?

This means the system requires you to complete an action because either your Appraisee or Appraiser has done something to the form, which requires a response. For example: Approve a meeting date or view a form.

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6. How do I change the font size?

There is a 'change font' button near the top of the form. This will allow you to increase the font size.

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