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Using a Coaching Approach within the PDR to help clarify objectives

Agreeing clear outcomes and measures of success is central to the Professional Development Review process. This part of the PDR turns a discussion into something much more meaningful, and sets the framework for review and feedback. Clearly formulated outcomes:

  •          Provide clarity
  •          Increase focus and commitment
  •          Ensure that staff members are working towards a balanced portfolio of activities appropriate to their role
  •          Enable achievement of the strategic and College / School / Function priorities.
  •          Assist staff in continually developing their knowledge, expertise and capabilities and to support career progression.


Useful questions to ask when setting outcomes

To be effective, an outcome must be meaningful and achievable; there is little point in setting objectives that are so large or unclear they cannot be achieved. So, when agreeing outcomes with individuals it is useful to ask the following:


  •          How does the individual’s role support the strategic priorities and College / School / Functions key objectives?
  •          What outcomes are appropriate for the role of the individual?
  •          What outcomes are appropriate as a result of feedback (e.g. from sources such values / 360 leadership feedback)
  •          How do they fit with the workload allocation model/workload expectations?
  •          What are the resource requirements?
  •          How do they impact on the outcomes of others?
  •          How can the outcomes be measured? What sources of evidence, data, and feedback are available to enable on-going review?
  •          What challenges are anticipated in seeking to achieve these outcomes?
  •          What support might be needed to enable achievement?
  •          If required, how might the outcomes be prioritised?
  •          If very large, how can the outcome be broken down into smaller, clear and attainable ‘chunks’?


You might find that a coaching approach helps in terms of providing both clarity and ownership because it allows the individual to think through their objectives and outcomes in more depth. Using the OSCAR Coaching Framework provides direction and focus to this conversation:




This is where you help the Reviewee to clarify their outcomes.


What is your outcome?

What would success look like?



This is where you get clarity around where the Reviewee is right now.


What is the current situation?

What’s actually happening?


Choices and Consequences:

This is where you help the Reviewee to generate as many alternative choices as possible and raise awareness about the consequences of each possible choice.


What choices do you have?

What options can you choose from?

What are the consequences of each choice?

Which choices have the best consequences?



This is where you help the Reviewee to clarify their next steps forward and to take responsibility for their own action plan.


What actions will you take?

When will you take those actions?

Who will support you in taking action?

On a scale of 1 to 10 how willing are you to take those actions?



This step creates an ongoing process of review and evaluation. This is where you help the Reviewee to continually check that they are on course.


What steps will you take to review your progress?

When are we going to get together to review progress?

Are the actions being taken?

Are the actions moving you towards your outcome?


The OSCAR Coaching Model was developed by Andrew Gilbert and Karen Whittleworth. The model builds upon and enhances the popular GROW model and is particularly useful for managers seeking to adopt a coaching style.


For more information about a coaching style of leadership, please contact Development and Training Services (dts@swansea.ac.uk) or your HR Business Partner


Examples of Outcomes:

Outcomes will differ depending on work context within both Academic and Professional Services Communities.


However well-formed outcomes will all share the following:

  •          Purpose
  •          Clarity
  •          Time – bound

 And will be underpinned by the relevant actions and support measures required.



Examples could include:

  • Implement new regulations in the safe storage of chemicals by 20 June 2017, and ensure all staff handling chemicals are aware of and trained in the new procedures by the implementation date.
  • To design and deliver a one-day ‘Research Excellence’ workshop to PhD students in the College of xxx by June 20, 2017 which achieves an overall evaluation rating of good or very good
  • To have written as Principal Investigator (or key contributor) research grant applications of a value exceeding the median award value of your discipline/College and have submitted these by dd/mm/yy
  • To have led the publication of one paper of quality likely to be judged 3* or 4* in the REF in suitable / appropriate journals per annum
  • Attain national recognition of leadership in the profession or discipline by publishing research outcomes and presenting a paper at a (named) national or international conference to be held on dd/mm/yy
  • To increase percentage of successful research funding applications by x per cent by dd/mm/yy
  • To identify and set up X industrial collaborations as source of research income by dd/mm/yy
  • To gain professional recognition for achievements in teaching and supporting learning by gaining a Higher Education Academy Fellowship by dd/mm/yy
  • Lead the successful accreditation of XX by dd/mm/yy
  • To lead in the management, support and development of xx research students by dd/mm/yy