Objective-Setting and Review (OSaR) guidance

Updated on 1 July 2022

An overview of the OSaR process and what you should expect at your OSAR meeting if you are a member of staff.

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The Objective-Setting and Review (OSaR) process supports the University’s strategic aims of embedding and supporting a culture of performance management and improvement throughout the University to unlock the full productive capacity of staff


The purpose of OSaR is to:

  • ensure you have an understanding of the University’s Vision and Transformation Agenda and your School’s or Directorate’s strategy
  • understand how your contribution fits into the ‘big picture’
  • maximise your personal contribution through a high-quality dialogue with your Reviewer
  • review your achievements over the previous period
  • agree your objectives, measures and target dates for achievements over the current period
  • recognise your successes and challenges, including having the opportunity to discuss factors that may be obstructing your performance or achievement of objectives
  • agree any training and development activities to support your achievement of the objectives over the current period and, ideally, to support your career aspirations


The objective-setting and review meeting should be entered into by both your and the Reviewer in the spirit of reasonableness and co-operation, with the aim of reaching agreement.

The normal expectation is that, wherever possible, the objective setting and review meeting will involve you and your immediate Line Manager or a Reviewer agreed by the Dean or Director. In large units where the obvious Reviewer is unable to be involved in all meetings, the Dean or Director will decide the appropriate persons to conduct the OSaR meetings.

Following completion of the process, the Reviewer will copy the finalised OSaR form (except for Parts 4 & 5 which will be completed the following year) to you and to the Dean or Director for information. If your comments disagree to any extent with the Reviewer’s assessment of your performance, you will have an opportunity to meet and discuss the Reviewer’s comments with the Dean or Director.

Deans will ensure the Vice-Principal and Head of College has access to all completed and signed OSaR forms as required. Directors will similarly provide access to the OSaR forms to the University Secretary.

The documents will be filed in a confidential storage system within the School or Directorate. There is no need for the OSaR form to be sent to Human Resources. The only requirement in this respect is for the Reviewer to copy your agreed training and development activities for the forthcoming year to Organisational & Professional Development for training needs analysis purposes.

Normally, the frequency of the meetings will be agreed between the Reviewer and you. The University requires, as a minimum, at least one OSaR meeting to take place annually but more frequent OSaR meetings are desirable and can be arranged. The next OSaR meeting should be diarised by both the Reviewer and you as a firm commitment.

Where there are instances of poor performance which is being dealt with informally and an individual’s performance merits increased frequency of OSaR meetings, this should be arranged.

Where a member of staff is receiving support under the informal Capability Procedure, meetings will occur as frequently as considered necessary.

Manual staff, not in supervisory roles, who operate to specified and understood standards in their roles will not have annual OSaR meetings but Deans and Directors should ensure that they are aware of the University vision, values and aims.

Roles and responsibilities

Vice-Principal (Academic Planning and Performance) and the University Secretary

The Vice-Principal (Academic Planning and Performance) and the University Secretary are expected to:

  • communicate the University’s and Professional Services' strategy and plans
  • agree objectives with their direct reports
  • have access to their members of their staff’s objectives to take an overview of the quality of the objectives to ensure that standards of excellence and consistency are being met and to provide any necessary feedback to the Dean or Director
  • consider prospective promotions and contribution points and ensure action is taken to advance meritorious cases
  • intervene, as necessary, when an individual’s performance merits increased frequency of OSaR meetings or transfer to the Capability Procedure

Deans and Directors

Deans and Directors are expected to:

  • communicate and cascade the School’s or Directorate’s strategy and plans
  • prepare the local OSaR form by inserting the Dean’s or Director’s summary of the School’s or Directorate’s priorities and provide the link to the School/Directorate strategy and operating plan to be available for 1 October each year
  • agree objectives with their direct reports
  • approve appropriate Reviewers, where necessary
  • communicate an understanding of excellent performance within the School or Directorate, taking account of the career stage, experience, discipline and opportunities to make a contribution
  • ensure they are fully apprised of the content of OSaR meetings which they have delegated to senior colleagues
  • provide the Vice-Principal (Academic Planning & Performance) or the University Secretary with access to completed OSaR forms for all Schools
  • advance prospective meritorious cases for promotions and contribution points to the Vice-Principal (Academic Planning & Performance) or University Secretary
  • discuss cases of poor performance with the Vice-Principal (Academic Planning & Performance) or University Secretary and recommend an action plan


Reviewers are expected to:

  • understand the School’s or Directorate’s plans
  • interpret the School’s or Directorate’s strategy and plans for the Reviewee, where necessary
  • agree SMART objectives with the Reviewee, taking account of their career stage, experience, discipline and opportunities to make a contribution
  • agree with their Reviewee which colleagues need to be advised about any or all of the Reviewee’s objectives
  • liaise with the Dean, Director or other budget holder to ascertain whether any identified need for training or development can be funded
  • apprise the Dean or Director of the content of OSaR meetings that have been delegated to them
  • revisit the objectives at an interim meeting where changes to the Reviewee’s objectives occur during the year
  • apply flexibility when reviewing achievements, taking due consideration of changed circumstances, circumstances outside a Reviewee’s control and opportunities taken that have impacted upon the achievement of objectives in the previous period
  • highlight meritorious cases for promotions and contribution points the Dean or Director
  • highlight cases of poor performance to the Dean and the way in which it is being addressed


Reviewees are expected to:

  • attend OSaR meetings as required
  • understand your own and your team’s contribution and how these fit with your School’s or Directorate’s plans
  • agree your own objectives that contribute to your team’s, School’s or Directorate’s objectives
  • agree with your Reviewer which colleagues need to be apprised of any or all of your objectives

Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development

Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development is expected to:

  • provide a sample of OSaR forms from across the University to UEG to allow them to comment on the quality of the objectives
  • reviewers and Reviewees will be notified if their objectives are to be sampled

University Executive Group

The University Executive Group are expected to:

  • annually consider the overall University quality and standard of OSaR objectives and intervene and/or provide guidance as necessary


Deans and Directors are responsible for ensuring a fair and equitable workload allocation within their School or Directorate. They need to ensure that staff with line management responsibility maintain an awareness of workloads within their teams, taking account of the cyclical nature of the work, to ensure that no one person is overburdened. Where it is not possible for the immediate line manager to resolve the issue of problematic workload allocation the matter should be escalated, ultimately to the Dean or Director for resolution.

Where staff are finding it impossible to carry out the duties allocated to them, they are encouraged to raise the matter with their line manager who will seek to resolve the situation prior to referring to a higher authority.

Outstanding performance and poor performance

The OSaR meeting is an opportunity to recognise the contribution made by Reviewees. Where performance has been outstanding, this should be communicated to the individual and reflected in the feedback documentation. Consideration should be given by the Reviewer and Dean or Director as to whether a case for promotion or for contribution points should be made.

Cases of poor performance should not wait until the OSaR meeting to be addressed and should be dealt with as soon as any aspects of poor performance are noted. If performance improvement measures have already been put in hand informally as a result and the OSaR meeting indicates that adequate improvement has not been made, the Capability Procedure should be followed.


The discussion about objectives will be conducted between you and the Reviewer(or her/his representative) in a confidential setting to ensure that any personal or career-related aspects of the discussion are kept private. However, it is acknowledged that, in order to work collaboratively towards the School/Directorate’s objectives or raise potential career development or resource issues there will be a need to share information on objectives with the Dean and/or colleagues, depending upon the issue.

You and your Reviewer will agree who needs to understand any or all of Reviewee’s objectives for the purpose of facilitating effective working.

Academic and research staff may be asked by Deans to review colleagues, where appropriate.

The Dean or the Director may request a copy of OSaR documentation for any member of their School or Directorate to ensure standards of excellence and consistency are maintained across the Schools and Directorates. The Vice-Principal (Academic Planning & Performance) will also have access to all members of staff’s OSaR documentation. Reviewers and Reviewees will be notified if their objectives are to be sampled in this way.

Documentation related to staff OSaRs will be filed in a confidential storage system in the School or Directorate.


There will not be disciplinary action launched as the result of an OSaR meeting. If any individual is not performing well in their job over a period of time they may move on to a programme that will provide additional training, support and monitoring of work but this would not be discipline.

As entitlement to trade union representation relates only to meetings that are, or may lead to, discipline or grievance, a trade union representative will not be able to accompany you to your OSaR meeting.

For support staff who undertake routine roles where annual objective-setting is not appropriate, an annual OSaR meeting should take place allowing the quality standards of work expected to be confirmed or restated.

If you are on probation, you will not be expected to participate in two processes simultaneously. If you are on an academic contract which involves probation or a probationary-style review, you will continue with this process until your appointment is confirmed. For staff in other categories (academic-related, clerical, technical and manual) OSAR will be the means of assessing performance during the probationary period. This will also apply to staff on short-term contracts.

Members of staff currently going through a formal capability procedure will not have to attend an OSaR meeting separate to this. Only one performance-related procedure is undertaken at one time. Assuming the individual moves through the capability procedure successfully, they will move back to the OSaR process thereafter.

For staff who have just returned from maternity leave or long term sickness absence, objectives and achievements should be reviewed up to the point that the individual stopped working. New objectives should be agreed when the individual returns as part of their re-induction. Account will need to be taken of situations where staff are returning on a phased-return or part time basis and the objectives set accordingly.


The OSaR year runs between 1 October and 30 September.

1 October – 28 February

  • All Professorial & Senior Management OSaR meetings to be completed.
  • All other staff’s OSARs should begin to cascade as soon as possible.

1 March – 30 September

  • All other staff’s OSaR meetings to be completed (except Manual staff without supervisory responsibility).

By 30 September

  • The number of OSaR meetings completed in Schools and Directorates are reported to Human Resources.


  • The Director of Human Resources reports the number of OSaR meetings completed in Schools and Directorates to Court.

Dispute resolution

Where a Reviewee has concerns about issues that they believe compromise the fair conduct of their review, or where agreement about objectives cannot be reached via the normal review process as outlined above, the matter will be passed in the first instance to the Dean or Director. If resolution cannot be achieved in this way, the matter will pass through the appropriate University process including mediation and/or grievance.


Human Resources

Corporate information category Staff review