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Objective Setting & Review - Guidance, Forms & FAQs

Objective Setting & Review : FAQs

I am responsible for conducting OSAR meeting with my staff.  How can I ensure I understand the aims and strategy of my School so I can relate it to the objectives that are being agreed for my direct reports?

This communication should be cascaded from your Dean or Director.  It is most likely to be explained as part of your own OSAR meeting with your line manager, who in turn will have had it cascaded from their line manager.  You will be responsible for setting the goals and strategy in context and helping your staff understand how their contribution fits into the larger picture.

Can I refuse to attend an OSAR meeting?  There is nothing in the process and guidelines that says it is mandatory.

You must attend OSAR meetings as required.  There is no need for the process and guidelines to state that it is mandatory.  Your employer is paying you to undertake a job of work and it is perfectly reasonable that your line manager and you meet to discuss the work, what has been achieved, what needs to be achieved and your contribution.

I am on probation.  Do I need to participate in OSAR as well?

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.

Can I request to have my OSAR meeting with someone other than my line manager?

It is important that the meeting takes place between the individual and their line manager who knows the day-to-day work of individual concerned, so this will be the typical arrangement.

An exception will arise where the individual and line manager are in formal dispute.  In this case, the Dean or Director will appoint and alternative person to conduct the OSAR meeting.

As a manager I have large numbers of staff. I don't feel able to undertake all the OSAR meetings. can i arrange for someone else to do some of my OSAR meetings?

First, look at the structure of your teams.  Do you have team leaders who have responsibility for some staff?  If this is the case and they have first line management responsibility for certain staff, they should be doing these OSAR meetings.

If you have large numbers in a flat structure, you may need to agree with your Dean or Director who the appropriate people are to conduct the OSAR meetings. However, wherever possible, that principle that the line manager conducts the OSAR meeting should be adhered to.

I am never going to have enough time to conduct the OSAR meetings with my staff.

In a supervisory or management role it is a key part of your role to discuss individuals’ work and what they need to achieve.  You probably do this informally at the moment and to conduct OSAR you simply need to do this in a slightly more structured way.  In one meeting clarification between you both will be achieved which will probably mean less ongoing clarification is required and you will also be able to meet your responsibilities in respect of the individual’s training and development too.

I have a member of staff who has just returned from Maternity Leave/Long term Sickness absence. How and when should I conduct the OSAR meeting?

Consider, discuss and review the objectives and achievements up to the point when the individual went off and agree new objectives 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.

I have a member of staff in my team who is currently going through a formal capability procedure.  Do I have to do an OSAR meeting with him separately?

No.  The rule should be that 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.

Could OSAR meetings lead to disciplinary action against me?

No, 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.

Can I bring my trade union representative to my OSAR meeting?

Entitlement to trade union representation relates only to meetings that are, or may lead to, discipline or grievance.  Meetings between staff and their line manager don’t fall into either category so a trade union representative will not be able to accompany you to your OSAR meeting.

I have split reporting lines.  Who will conduct my OSAR meeting?

Probably the person to whom you have the most definite reporting line e.g. a finance officer working in a School Office is likely to have their OSAR meeting with their line manager in Finance who is likely to have gathered information about their performance from, for example, the School Manager.

I don't report to my line manager on a daily basis, but to someone else. My Line Manager is conducting my OSAR meeting. How can I be sure they understand what I do.

Firstly, you may wish to be more specific on your preparation form (XXXPM1) about your achievements over the last year. Your Line Manager will also consult with the people you do regularly report to so they have full information about your work and achievements.

Our department has already done our Staff Development and Review process.  Do we need to do OSAR as well?

You need to start the OSAR process in 2010 with everyone else.  For this year only you could use the Staff Development and Review paperwork as part of your preparation for your OSAR meeting and attach a copy to XXXXPM1.

I'm a bit worried. I have been covering for a colleague who has been off on sick leave and as a result haven't managed to achieve all the objectives I was set last year. Will my Line Manager view this negatively?

If your Line Manager has asked you to provide cover, it is almost certain they will understand why you have been unable to achieve what was originally planned.

Record this on XXXXPM1 so your Line Manager is aware of the obstacles that meant you were unable to achieve all your objectives. This can be part of the initial discussion looking back at last year. When agreeing your objectives for this year, ensure you and your manager discuss how they are to be achieved, particularly if you are to continue to provide cover.

Will standards across the University be consistent, particularly in the areas of research where 'x' number of publications and £'y' grant income needs to be achieved?

Some Schools will have specified what they expect their academic and research staff to achieve. However, we have to remember that different Schools will be at different levels of maturity in relation to their research profiles. Similarly, individuals will differ. A new lecturer on probation will be on a learning curve whereas an experienced member of staff will be expected to meet the standards set. In practice therefore, standards will differ across the University.

My line manager keeps putting off my OSAR meeting.  What should I do?

Be persistent. Try again - you are entitled to your OSAR meeting. If this fails, then you may wish to speak to someone in a senior administrative capacity in your School e.g.: School Manager, or your HR Officer, who will speak to your Line Manager.

How does OSAR fit with HERA role outlines and job descriptions?

The job description outlines the accountabilities of the job on a longer-term basis. The role outline form gives examples of how the job is done in practice.


The OSAR process can use both documents but emphasis is on how the longer-term accountabilities stated in the job description are translated into what actually needs to be done (i.e.: what the objectives are) in the coming year.

Can I ask for promotion at an OSAR meeting?

The OSAR meeting should be firmly focused on objective setting and review in context of your current job. So a conversation about the possibility of promotion should be the subject of a separate meeting.


However, during OSAR meetings, Line Managers will inevitably make judgements about their staffs' performance and whether they appear to be operating at their present grade, or whether they feel they might be operating at a higher grade. If this is their view, they should consult the standard profiles on the HERA website to check, and if they believe their member of staff is operating at a higher level than their current grade, they should start the process under the HERA Maintenance Procedure.