SRDS for reviewers

SRDS is an opportunity for you to recognise and discuss the performance and contribution in the last 12 months of the staff member(s) you line manage or review, provide feedback and look forward to the coming year. Given the recent change in circumstances caused by coronavirus and that all staff have quickly transitioned into new ways of working and managed shifting priorities, SRDS this year should take account of these changes.

You will normally be the line manager of the reviewee but do make sure you know in advance who you will be reviewing. The review meeting is your chance to discuss with the reviewee how well they have met objectives; how work is going, including any issues or clarifications around performance, contribution, and expected standards. This should also help you decide on any development needs that the reviewee requires for the coming year. You can also encourage your reviewee to think about their career development, and it is an expected part of the conversation for Research staff.

Preparing for and conducting the Review Meeting

Recognising that SRDS conversations will not be possible face-to-face due to the current circumstances, SRDS meetings will need to be undertaken virtually. This could be using Google Hangouts Meet or if this is not practical, could be undertaken by phone. Working patterns may have altered to adapt to the current circumstances, so SRDS reviewers should have a conversation with their reviewees about a time that is mutually convenient.

Staff who have been placed on furlough leave should not be reviewed during the period of furlough leave, but a review can take place either before or after this absence.

The reviewee is required to complete sections, A, C and D of the SRDS form (which is available as a Google Doc or in Word). You may be required to provide further support to your reviewee completing these sections and you should ask your reviewee to submit section A to yourself at least one week prior to the review meeting, to give you enough time to consider the previous year.

You should conduct the meeting in a way that is open-minded, encouraging and positive. Ask open-ended questions in order to allow the reviewee to express themselves fully; recognise achievements and seek to address concerns or problems in a constructive way.

Where appropriate, you should also discuss and confirm whether conflict of interest and personal relationship declarations and records are complete and up to date.

At the end of the meeting, the date that the SRDS took place should be recorded in MyTeam against the individual’s name. SRDS completions are recorded in MyTeam so that completion rates can be reported on at a Department, Faculty or University level. If you have an SRDS Co-ordinator in your Department let them know that the date the meeting was held so that they can record the completion within MyTeam on your behalf. Please check local arrangements with your Department.

Providing feedback

SRDS is an opportunity for you to provide feedback to the reviewee on their previous year’s contribution. You should aim to provide constructive feedback that reflects the reviewee’s contribution, using evidence and examples to illustrate the feedback you provide. This feedback should be consistent with the performance of the reviewee over the previous year. You may need to speak to other people in the Department if your reviewee works across teams. For further guidance, see a guide to giving feedback.

Feedback should be given to the reviewee based on specific examples and evidence of what they have done and how they have done it in line with:

  • the individual’s job role and responsibilities, including their performance as a manager if this forms part of their role,
  • the objectives set (from the previous year’s SRDS or as part of induction/probation or as part of performance improvement measures),
  • their overall contribution to the team, departmental, faculty and University objectives.
  • how they undertake the role, for example, demonstration of values of Sheffield Leader and Sheffield Professional
  • for academic staff, use the Academic Career Pathways framework.

The topics for feedback may be driven by the content of section A and/or your general reflections as the reviewer. It is expected that the review meeting is not the only time in the year that the individual receives feedback on their contribution.

You may need to take into account the impact of coronavirus and where these circumstances have affected the ability to complete objectives and what replacement work may have been undertaken. In the previous month many staff will have changed the focus and delivery of their work and as such, the objectives set and then reviewed in the mid-year SRDS may now have been superseded by other priorities. As an SRDS reviewer, you should look at achievements against objectives but be appreciative that other work of similar value will have been undertaken. This year in particular it would be worthwhile for SRDS reviewers to reflect on the flexibility and adaptability of staff in reacting to the current exceptional circumstances. However, it is important to remember to provide feedback on the year as a whole, and not just the last few weeks.

Completion of Section B: Written feedback - Following your review of staff performance and contribution the information will be help to inform decisions relating to staff rewards, and this will reflect the feedback you have already given to the reviewee. You can find out more about rewarding contribution here.

This section should be completed following the meeting and should reflect the discussion and feedback given to the individual.

Objective setting

In forward planning and setting objectives, SRDS reviewers should ensure they are clear on the current Department/Faculty objectives and how they fit into the wider University plans. These objectives may be different to previous years and should be designed to fit the current needs.

You should discuss the focus of the reviewees work in the coming months, as well as longer term. Objectives should be set based on current priorities, with a view to potentially adapting them at the mid year SRDS in light of any changes to these priorities. For academic staff, objectives will be based on the criteria of the Academic Career Pathways.

Given there is currently uncertainty about how work will be organised in the University in the coming months, and what the priorities might be, it is potentially sensible to consider holding SRDS review meetings a bit later than usual. This would give a chance for the position to become clearer, and therefore for objectives to be set based on fuller information. You may also wish to consider setting objectives over a shorter timespan than you normally would, so that you and your reviewee can be more flexible and adapt to changing circumstances.


Given that the majority of staff are now based at home and the remainder may have different working patterns, an important part of the conversation will be the wellbeing of the reviewee. This should take account of their home situation and personal circumstances and that some staff may be balancing caring responsibilities with their work.

As an example, reviewers can initiate a dialogue around wellbeing by asking the reviewee the following questions;

  • When you reflect on your wellbeing over the past year, is there anything that might have impacted on your wellbeing at work that you would like to discuss?
  • How would you score your current state of wellbeing (1-5)? Is there anything that would help this to be either improved or maintained (as applicable)?
  • Are you aware of how to access the University Staff Wellbeing Pages and the resources available there?
  • Some reviewees may need additional support at his time and should be signposted to wellbeing support at departmental, faculty or University level.

A reviewer may feel it is appropriate to introduce the option of a personal Wellbeing Assessment and Action Plan as a recommendation from the SRDS discussion, that can be completed by the Line Manager at a later date. Further information can be found in the Managers Wellbeing Toolkit.

Further details on staff wellbeing can be found in the Health & Wellbeing section of the HR website. Your HR team can also advise if you feel that the wellbeing of the reviewee requires additional support.


If you identify development needs during the review meeting, these should be considered at the Department Review Panel (DRP) and the outcome communicated to the reviewee.

A good place to start with finding ways to meet these needs is the People Development webpages. Your conversation should cover the practicalities of undertaking this development during the period whilst many staff are working from home.

Recognising the current exceptional circumstances, any general training or development will need to be undertaken virtually. The University offers a broad range of online learning opportunities. Reviewers and reviewees should pay particular attention to any training or development that may assist a member of staff at this time in delivering their business critical activities.

You could also consider the option of undertaking a relevant apprenticeship - Please note that for Apprenticeships, costs of the training would be covered by the University's Apprenticeship Levy. For more information about Apprenticeships please see the Apprenticeship webpages.

It may not be possible to meet some development needs due to potential current limited availability. If this is the case for your reviewee, you should still note it down and discuss it, and set a point in the future to review whether the need can now be met.

Reviewer Training

The People Development team are supporting reviewers to develop their skills in SRDS Conversations. These online sessions will develop reviewers’ skills in giving feedback, setting objectives and managing a virtual SRDS conversation effectively. To access learning and live sessions for this please visit the People Development webpages.

There are also resources available on the SRDS Skills webpages, where we look at resources and skills for each section of the SRDS conversation, have outlined what to consider when setting up a virtual SRDS session, and have put together our top tips for reviewers.