Our Performance Review and Development or PRD is a collaborative, on-going process between you and your manager to plan for, develop and evaluate your work.

Performance Review and Development (PRD) process

Performance planning and review is important to ensure everyone is working at a high level, achieving results, developing leadership skills and supporting our commitment to being a world-class university on the move.

Our PRD is a collaborative, on-going process between you and your manager or supervisor to plan for, develop and evaluate your work. The PRD provides:

  • Role clarity – so you understand the requirements of your job.
  • Performance clarity – so you understand what performance is expected of you and how this contributes to our strategic objectives.
  • Career clarity – so we can support you to build your career through training and development.

All ongoing staff on fixed-term contracts more than six months are expected to have a PRD in place and hold regular performance conversations with their manager or supervisor.

What it means for you

The PRD process has an annual cycle of key events.

The cycle for PRD review and goal settingDuring November to February managers and staff review performance from the previous year and agree on goals for the year ahead.

Good practice is to have a performance review conversation before the end of the year with a discussion about possible goals for the next year. This should be followed by a goal setting conversation in the new year to finalise the direction and priorities for the next 12 months. If it is more practical you can combine both of these conversations into one. It is recognised that in some Schools and Units, due to flat organisational structures, managers have very large teams and this makes the supervision of staff challenging, especially the amount of time that needs to be allocated to this task. To overcome these challenges, managers may utilise PRD Mentors (PDF, 116KB) and PRD Managing Large Teams Process overview (PDF, 27KB) they may set Performance Expectations in team meetings. You should keep an electronic record of your goals and reviews in the PRD online tool.


The cycle for the PRD development planTo give planning for your development enough focus and attention, a separate development conversation is scheduled with your manager or supervisor between May and June. You can plan your development based on the requirements of your role and your future career aspirations. Part of this will include a discussion about behaviours and will include our Leadership Framework. You can also use your performance over the first half of the year to inform this plan. You should keep an electronic record of your development plan in the PRD online tool.


You and your manager will have regular conversations throughout the year about your performance and development. These can be regular catch up meetings or informal discussions. You should keep a record of the conversations in the PRD online tool.


Performance Expectations Framework for Academic Staff

The draft Performance Expectations Framework for Academic Staff (PEF) (PDF, 859KB) is being piloted during 2014. The Framework outlines both qualitative expectations and quantitative performance indicators and targets by academic level. Qualitative descriptors are articulated across a continuum of leadership from Level A to E.

The leadership continuum describes the progression of skills and knowledge from an early career academic through to the developing, proficient and distinguished academic. Each level defines progressive expectations regarding the impact of an individual's activities in research and innovation, teaching and learning, and service and engagement. Quantitative performance indicators are provided where appropriate to enable goal setting, to support staff in assessing their own performance, and enable alignment with School and Faculty goals.

The Framework encourages the use of academic judgement and professional development in recognition and support of individuals aspiring to meet their performance expectations.

Consultation/Engagement during the 2014 Pilot of the Performance Expectation Framework for Academic Staff:

  • Human Resource staff will gather qualitative feedback regarding use of the PEF during the PRD.
  • Feedback will be gathered from Pro Vice-Chancellors and Heads of Schools.
  • A survey monkey questionnaire will be sent to all academic staff.
  • Faculty Representative Group will be reconvened to review feedback provided during 2014.
  • Feedback will be presented to the Academic Consultative Committee for discussion.

To prepare for your performance planning conversation, please complete a reflection on your current year's performance, as well as your plans for the coming year using the Preparation for PRD meeting template for academic staff (DOC, 75KB). You should upload this to the PRD online tool. This staff performance review conversation form (PDF, 262 KB)is also a useful resource to prepare and conduct a quality conversation with your manager/mentor.

Your feedback on the Performance Expectation Framework for Academic Staff document is welcome, please send to PRDonline@newcastle.edu.au. For additional information please see the Frequently Asked Questions.

Why are we introducing a Performance Expectations Framework (PEF)?

The draft Performance Expectations Framework for Academic Staff is a key element of the Performance Review and Development (PRD) process for academic staff and exemplifies NeW Directions strategy in action. Strengthening research performance and providing a first-rate educational experience for students are our top priorities under NeW Directions. The Framework assists in aligning staff performance with the University's strategic direction and provides career clarity for staff to support them in delivering excellence in research and in teaching and learning.

How was the PEF developed?

The Performance Expectations Framework for Academic Staff has been developed during 2013, following benchmarking with higher education institutions in Australia, the USA and the UK (including the UK Professional Standards Framework).

The Framework was developed using a range of measures including HERDC and ERA publication counts and average research incomes benchmarked across the sector.

The Framework addresses the three main domains of academic work and outlines the qualitative descriptors and performance metrics by academic level for the three domains:

  • Research and Innovation
  • Teaching and Learning, and
  • Service and Engagement.

What consultation has taken place to date?

Consultation has been undertaken with a range of stakeholders during 2013/2014 as detailed below:

 DateConsultation to date 
September 2013

Draft Performance Expectations Framework for Academic Staff discussed at a workshop held with Leadership Group  (Executive Committee, Heads of Schools, Directors and other key leaders).

October 2013

Presentation of the draft document to the Leadership Group

November 2013

Review and updating of the 'Research and Innovation Performance Expectations' by a research reference group over a number of weeks.

November 2013

Presentation of draft version of the framework to the Academic Staff Consultative Committee.

19 December 2013

Presentation of draft framework to a broad group of academics representing both research and teaching and learning, as nominated by Pro Vice-Chancellors (Faculty Representative Group).

28 February 2014

Presentation to Heads of Schools to introduce the framework and provide explanation of how the Framework was developed and how the Framework can be used within the PRD process.

13 March 2014

Presentation to the Academic Staff Consultative Committee

21 March 2014

Meeting held with Director, ELFS and Director, Academic and Research, Wollotuka, to discuss PRD process and setting of performance expectations within these centres

March-April 2014

Consultation on a School-by-School basis with Heads of School and their nominated PRD Mentors. Training provided on how to use and calibrate the performance data to set reasonable performance targets for staff and how to use the framework within the PRD process to inform goal setting.

How will feedback be gathered during the 2014 PEF pilot?

  • Staff can provide feedback via PRDonline@newcastle.edu.au
  • Human Resources staff will gather qualitative feedback regarding use of the PEF during the PRD process
  • Feedback will be gathered from Pro Vice-Chancellors and Heads of Schools
  • A survey monkey questionnaire will be sent to all academic staff to seek their feedback directly
  • The Faculty Representative Group will be reconvened to review feedback provided during 2014
  • Feedback will be presented to the Academic Consultative Committee for discussion with the unions

When will the PEF pilot conclude?

Following consultation with all stakeholders and consideration of feedback, the updated framework will be presented to the Faculty Representative Group and Academic Consultative Committee prior to submission to Executive Committee for approval.

How will the PEF be used?

The Framework outlines both qualitative expectations and quantitative performance indicators and target ranges by academic level.

The Framework takes into account that performance targets may be calibrated by Discipline, School or Faculty and will be relative to each staff member's opportunity for research, teaching, and service.

Heads of School and PRD Mentors have received training on use of performance expectations within the PRD process and contextualisation of the Framework within each School/Discipline, recognising there are considerable disciplinary differences in research practices.

How will the PEF impact on staff?

The Framework will provide performance and career clarity for academic staff and will provide a useful resource for Performance Review and Development (PRD) conversations. It is important to note that the PEF is being piloted in 2014, providing staff with the opportunity for feedback and to ensure the document is nuanced and fit for purpose.

Will the PEF place undue pressure on staff?

The PEF will provide performance clarity for staff and facilitate staff and their Schools to prioritise their work in line with expectations. The PEF will also facilitate staff in optimising the way various work tasks are performed, and identifying tasks that can be reduced or are no longer necessary, particularly by taking new approaches to learning and teaching, e.g. fewer repeat classes by using technology-enhanced learning pedagogies to enhance teaching delivery.

How does the PEF ensure research quality is a key consideration?

The PEF emphasises that quality should never be sacrificed for quantity. The research target ranges within the PEF provide expectations for staff with a 'normal' teaching and research load and with no mitigating circumstances. The target ranges are provided as a guideline of what is needed by each individual in order to meet school KPIs, however Heads of Schools and PRD Mentors will use their academic judgement to consider a staff member's individual circumstances and their overall performance across the areas of research outputs, research income and research supervision. The HOS can adjust expectations where a staff member is performing highly in one or two of these areas.
What is the proposed relationship between the PEF and a Faculty's workload model?

The draft Performance Expectations Framework for Academic Staff will work in parallel with Faculty Workload models. Given the number of university workload models it would have proved difficult to provide consideration for all Faculty models.

As HOS and PRD mentors meet with individual staff to discuss performance and set performance goals, they will take into consideration a staff member's designated work allocation and individual circumstances, and adjust performance expectations using their best judgement. Given this is a pilot year, staff are encouraged to run the PRD process using the new framework as a pilot in order to provide feedback on any conflicting issues that may arise during this process.

What will happen if expectations are not met?

The Framework is designed as a development model with a view to enabling behavioural and cultural change across the institution through encouraging collaboration, discussion on more efficient and effective methods of meeting teaching and research goals, and enabling all staff to engage in high quality teaching and research.

It is expected that the majority of academics will meet expectations. Research performance will be reviewed as an annual average over the most recent rolling three-year period, acknowledging that research output, in terms of number and mix, can fluctuate from year to year.

In negotiating an academic staff member's research targets, overall performance across all areas of research output will be taken into account. For example, where a staff member's research outputs exceed expectations in one area, a lower contribution in other output areas may be agreed.

Individual performance targets will be discussed and agreed upon as part of the PRD process. A staff member's three-year average of research output will be used as a baseline from which to set targets for the current year and beyond; which depending on the individual, may need to be maintained or increased in order to meet or exceed the established satisfactory level of performance. Individual targets should take account of the quality and impact of publications, recent promotion, leadership roles, extended periods of leave, fractional appointments, recent periods of study leave, designated work allocation, and individual circumstances.

What support will be provided?

Each of the faculties has tailored support schemes in place to encourage the research and teaching development of academic staff.

The Research Division also supports early career development through the provision of grants to progress research. A new Research Development Program will be developed in 2014, to operate in a similar fashion to the support and development activities run by UON's Centre for Teaching and Learning.
As Heads of Schools conduct Performance Review and Development conversations, they will conduct a needs analysis of any additional support required by their staff. This information will be collated and will inform the development of the Research Development Program

General resources