Staff Development

To be read in conjunction with

Staff Development SOP

Approval Date
24 May 2010
Approved By
Chief Executive
Deputy Chief Executive: People, Culture and Safety
Baldrige Criteria
Workforce focus

This policy aims to give effect to Otago Polytechnic Limited (Ltd)’s commitment to the development of its staff in partnership with the individual staff member. The policy sets out the Polytechnic’s expectations in respect of developmental feedback and the requirement for personal and professional development planning and makes provision for open and transparent decision-making. It refers to individual development entitlements and allocations and establishes authorities.


1.         Application

1.1.        This policy applies to all permanent (tenured) academic and general staff (full-time or proportional) and to all staff who are employed greater than 0.5 for fixed term contracts of 12 months or more; provided that nothing in this policy shall prevent the support of the development of other categories of staff. (Refer to Practice Note 3 for guidance on the development of part-time [untenured] staff.)

1.2.        This policy shall be read alongside respective employment agreements which shall take precedence over this policy except in those situations where the provisions of this policy are more advantageous to the staff member.


2.         The terms “Staff Development” and “Professional Development” are regarded as synonymous for the purposes of this policy.

2.1.        Staff Development refers to a wide range of activities which are complementary to the work which staff may undertake and which are intended to enhance their effectiveness as members of the Polytechnic. Staff development activities may involve activities which enhance specialist capability (eg administrative, business, research, teaching, technical, Formal Leaderial), and/or personal proficiency (eg critical thinking, cultural understanding, interpersonal communication, time management, leadership, stress management).  (Refer to Practice Note 2 for examples of development activities.)

2.2.        Individual development allocations are those entitlements to time and granting of financial support as set out in the staff member’s employment agreement or conferred by Otago Polytechnic Limited policy. (Refer to Schedule 1 for the current allocations).

2.3.        An Individual Development Plan (IPP) is a statement agreed annually between a staff member and they/their Formal Leader which sets out the directions for a staff member’s development and which identifies the resources which are to be allocated for that development.

2.4.        “Work Related” staff development activity

               A staff development activity can only be regarded as work related if it reasonably can be seen to:

  • develop the staff member’s capability in the current position
  • prepare the staff member for a new or future position which can be seen as a development of that staff member’s career and is potentially of value to Otago Polytechnic Limited
  • otherwise benefit Otago Polytechnic Limited, eg by developing capabilities which enhance the flexibility and value of the staff member as an employee

2.5.        Developmental feedback refers to the process whereby an individual staff member seeks feedback on they/their work performance with the objectives of affirming good practice and of identifying any areas and actions for improvement. Such feedback should be gathered from those who have valid experience of aspects of the staff member’s practice. (Refer to Practice Note 4 for guidance on processes for securing feedback.)

3.         Developmental Feedback

3.1.        All staff have a professional responsibility to seek developmental feedback on their practice from learners/customers and colleagues as part of an ongoing consideration of the effectiveness of their work practice. For teaching staff, this includes learner feedback; and for service staff, this includes customer feedback (internal and external). It is considered essential for staff to seek feedback on at least an annual basis, using the Polytechnic’s central feedback service, and this is required of all staff. The central feedback service is managed by the Polytechnic’s Organisational Research Officer.

3.2.        Staff have a professional responsibility to assist with the development of colleagues and to this end to provide constructive feedback on their direct experience of a colleague’s practice upon request by that colleague. Staff also have a professional responsibility to bring matters which they view with concern about the practice of a colleague to the attention of that colleague.  This is a particularly important responsibility for Formal Leaders and supervisors and is a key performance indicator for senior and principal lecturers. In exercising this responsibility staff should act with due care and sensitivity.

3.3.        In the context of developmental feedback, the staff member shall have ownership of and control over the use of all information gathered. Lecturer feedback from learners and colleagues is confidential to the lecturer unless the request to seek feedback has been initiated by the Head of College/Formal Leader as per 4.1.

  • Staff are encouraged to notify their Head of College/Formal Leader that they are seeking feedback and to discuss feedback with their Formal Leader and with trusted colleagues.
  • Staff should reflect on feedback and seek to initiate development activities where these are indicated as desirable. Such development activities should be built into the staff member’s IPP.
  • Formal Leaders/Supervisors are expected to facilitate the development activities that are incorporated into the IPP, including the allocation of resources as appropriate.

3.4.        Developmental feedback obtained through the Polytechnic’s central feedback service meets the requirement for valid and reliable feedback necessary for promotions or salary review.

3.5.        In the rare cases where the Organisational Research Officer becomes aware of consistently negative feedback on two or more occasions, the Organisational Research Officer will alert the Head of College/ Programmes/Formal Leader that action is required.


4.         Summative Feedback

4.1.        All Heads of College/Formal Leaders are required to obtain summative feedback on the performance of their staff on an annual basis, using the Polytechnic’s standard feedback tools administered by the Institutional Research Officer. This feedback should be an appropriate sampling of the key elements of the staff member’s work.

4.2.        The requirement in 4.1 above should be met if the staff member meets the requirements in 3.3 above and shares this feedback with they/their Head of College/Formal Leader.


5.         Individual Performance Plans (IPP)

5.1.        Each staff member shall maintain a current IPP which shall address: the capabilities required for effective job performance, giving effect to institutional and school/service area priorities; and other personal and professional development needs which are work related as determined by the staff member. It is expected that any development needs which have been identified as necessary for effective job performance will be addressed in the first instance. (Refer to Practice Note 5 for guidance on the development planning process.)

The IPP must include:

  • Training/development for improved performance, arising from the staff member’s Performance Review, and
  • Compliance training required of all staff e.g., health and safety, fire, and
  • Developmental priorities as advised.

(Refer to Schedule 2 for current development priorities.)

5.2.        IPPs should be regarded as dynamic documents which are reviewed as required to meet changing circumstances. The IPP is to be reviewed at least annually, and each revision must be agreed with the staff member’s Formal Leader. An IPP may be revised, by agreement with the Formal Leader, at any time.

IPPs should be completed or revised in November/December for the forthcoming year and are required to be completed by 28 February. If not completed by 28 February, the staff member will not be eligible for any individual funding allocation and the Formal Leader may direct the member’s development activities. For new staff, the development plan must be completed within three months of commencement of employment. (Refer to Practice Note 5.)

5.3.        IPPs are confidential agreements, the contents of which are subject to the usual privacy considerations surrounding personal information1. A copy of the individual’s IPP is provided by their Formal Leader to Human Resources each year.

5.4.        Where a staff member and they/their Formal Leader are unable to agree on a development plan the matter shall be referred to the Formal Leader’s Formal Leader for resolution.

5.5.        Participation in Otago Polytechnic Limited’s development days are a required element of every development plan; subject to operational requirements as determined by the Formal Leader.


6.         Provisions for Support

6.1.        The IPP shall identify the development time and financial support to be provided for the staff member’s personal and/or professional development. Form SD1 (per Appendix 1) records the agreed level of support. There are two sources of financial support available:

Personal allocation – at the levels set out in Schedule 1 based on the requirements of Schedule 1

Formal Leader allocations – refer to Clause 5.8

6.2.        The minimum development time made available for staff shall be as specified in the employment agreement under which the staff member is employed. Financial allocations are as per Schedule 1 and are dependent on an IPP being in place by 28 February. If this date is not met, personal allocations for that year are forfeit. If no IPP is in place no funding whatsoever is available for staff-initiated development initiatives.

6.3.        Staff may use their development time and financial allocations at their discretion, provided that organisational development priorities have been met.

6.4.        In addition to development time and financial support, Formal Leaders may agree to support staff development through other means such as flexible work arrangements or the use of the Polytechnic’s resources.

(1) A staff member is expected to provide results to their Formal Leader for formal study which has been funded by staff discount and/or personal allocation for professional development. Formal Leaders do have the right to access results from the SMS.


6.5.        In granting financial, or other support, or development time in excess of contractual entitlements or institutional allocations the Formal Leader shall give due weight to the value of the development activity to the school/service area or the Polytechnic.

6.6.        A Formal Leader must not approve the use of development time nor authorise financial support for development activities which are not work related. Refer to 2.4 for a definition of “work related” as it applies to staff development.

6.7.        In addition to any allocation for financial support for staff development, all qualifying Otago Polytechnic Ltd staff (refer to Clause 5.1) may undertake study of an Otago Polytechnic Ltd programme in whole or in part, with no charge for fees, provided that such study is a component of the agreed IPP.  Approval to undertake study of an Otago Polytechnic Ltd programme free of tuition fees does not confer on the Polytechnic an obligation to provide time release for that study in excess of the staff member’s individual time entitlement. Formal Leaders who in their discretion grant time release beyond the individual entitlement may require the staff member to apply their individual financial allocation to the provision of replacement staffing.

6.8.        Where a staff member is required to undertake specific training or to otherwise acquire skills over and above their current area of expertise, the Formal Leader shall make additional financial and time provisions to ensure that such training and development can be undertaken as part of the staff member’s job.

6.9.        As well as any individual entitlements or other financial support provided by the Formal Leader, staff may receive support from other funds made available by the Polytechnic. Any funding which is provided for a staff member’s development is subject to the requirements of this policy.

6.10.     Financial support for staff development activities will be provided by direct payment to suppliers of development services wherever possible, or otherwise by reimbursement against receipts.

6.11.     Only in exceptional circumstances may annual time and/or financial entitlement be carried forward, and then only by written agreement with the appropriate senior Formal Leader. This requires specific budgetary provision to be made at the time of setting the budgets for the new academic year.

6.12.     Every college/service area will be allocated a dedicated staff development budget at the level set out in Schedule 1 (dedicated means it cannot be spent on anything other than staff development).


7.         Use of Development Funding

7.1.        Funding allocated for development may be used to meet any bona fide operating costs associated with approved development activities, including fees (subject to 6.3), travel and materials costs, and costs associated with hiring assistance.

Allocated funding may not be used to pay fees at another institution if the staff member has failed or failed to complete study previously undertaken and paid for with Otago Polytechnic Ltd funds.

The Polytechnic will reimburse fees which otherwise will have been paid on application following successful completion. In exceptional circumstances the DCE: People, Culture and Safety may waive this requirement.

7.2.        Funding allocated for development may only be used for capital costs (equipment, machinery) with the express approval of the DCE: Corporate Services. As a general guide approval will not be given for the purchase of equipment or machinery which has a high personal benefit unless the staff member has personally contributed to the purchase at a level that reflects the personal benefit.

7.3.        Funding allocated for development may not be used to pay fees at another tertiary institution where the same or a substantially similarly course/programme of study is available at Otago Polytechnic Ltd.

NB: This provision does not apply to staff who are continuing a qualification at another institution which they commenced prior to the 2008 academic year.


8.         Required Development Days

8.1.        The Polytechnic will set aside three development days each year, the dates for which shall be included in the Staff Calendar.  In addition, the Formal Leader of each college or service area may set aside up to four development days for school/service area development activity.

8.2.        Polytechnic, college, or service area development days are workdays and are not available for leave.  Participation in development activities is expected.


9.         Budget

9.1.        The DCE: Corporate Services shall budget centrally for staff development, consistent with Schedule 1, and shall report annually on the use of development resources.

             The cost of staff discounts under the Staff Discount Policy shall be budgeted for centrally. Staff discounts are not a charge against allocated development funding.

9.2.        Heads of College and Service Area Formal Leaders shall approve development plans and allocate resources to development activities which meet the requirements of this policy and shall monitor implementation of development plans.

9.3.        Staff shall develop IPPs by due date and implement those plans in the agreed timeframes.



  • Monitoring and Review of New Employees
  • Funding for Staff Development Activities and Staff Discount
  • Workload
  • Research and Study Release



  • Employment agreements for both academic and professional staff