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Frequently asked questions about GROW

Here you will find questions and answers about GROW, the types of interviews, the GROW tile and more.

Is your questions not listed here? If you have any questions about GROW itself, please contact your manager. If you have questions about the system, please contact the PSSC Service Point. Managers are welcome to ask their HR adviser if they have substantive questions about GROW.

From Performance & Development interview to GROW

GROW stands for Conversations on Performance, Development and Well-being (Gesprekken over Resultaat, Ontwikkeling en Welzijn).

Leiden University aims to be a healthy, engaged and learning community, where there is ample scope for talent and development, and space for innovation. We will all contribute to this by holding regular discussions on (among other topics) the growth of your leadership skills applied to yourself, your own development and your contribution to your team. You can also discuss what you need in order to perform well and enjoy doing your work.

GROW is therefore an important step towards achieving an open and substantive discussion with one another about the work. In line with our Innovating and Connecting strategic plan, GROW provides space for recognising and rewarding talent and for further personal development. This will help us to realise our strategic ambitions more effectively and to work together on ensuring an organisation where we feel at home and can achieve our full potential.

The GROW regulations come into effect on 1 September 2024. Until that date, the current Regulations on Performance & Development Interviews will still apply. From 1 September 2024 there will also be a GROW tile on the Service Portal, which you can use for writing your GROW reports.

The Performance & Development (P&D) reports that have been started in SAP Self Service on or before 31 August 2024 will remain available until the end of 2024. Earlier P&D reports will be transferred to the GROW tile.

  • Your manager will focus more on team goals: these will form the basis for establishing your personal goals. You will discuss together how you can make a contribution to the team, the team goals and the collaboration among the members of the team.
  • You will have interviews more often: in addition to the formal start interview and annual interview, you can have informal interim interviews. Holding these interim interviews on a regular basis promotes openness and is therefore highly recommended, but this is not compulsory.
  • You and your manager are jointly responsible for initiating the interviews and for their quality. The same is true for writing the report and attaining the agreed performance.
  • There will be a descriptive assessment of your performance, instead of an assessment using scores or sub-scores. We’re changing an interview about norms and standards into a dialogue about performance, development and well-being.
  • Well-being is a required topic in your interviews. This could relate to the work pressure you are experiencing, your vitality or your work-life balance.
  • Attention is focused more specifically on development: what steps do you want to take in your career, or perhaps towards a different position? You can reflect on these questions, for example, by obtaining (360-degree) feedback from your colleagues.
  • The annual report is no longer just for employees in scale 8 and above; everyone will now complete the GROW report (if necessary, supported by your manager).
  • The GROW tile will make it easier to keep a record of everything.

No, we won’t stop making an assessment in GROW; the interview still includes a descriptive assessment. However, we will stop using sub-scores and the overall appraisal score in the annual interview. These will be replaced in GROW by a summarising descriptive assessment written by your manager, which you will have first discussed together. We believe that making the assessment in words will now do more justice to everyone’s performance.

How you feel – both physically and mentally, and not only at work but also in your personal life – can have an impact on your daily work. Talking about this can help you to feel more heard, recognised and appreciated, and it can also help to promote social safety. For this, however, it’s important that there’s a sense of trust between you both.

The focus will no longer be just on individual performance but also on team performance. Consider how you contribute to the plan, goal or vision of your team, your teaching or research group or your department. How do we exchange specific knowledge and expertise? This also helps you to feel more like part of a team, or of the whole to which you contribute.

There are many different kinds of teams within Leiden University; for instance, a department, project team, research or teaching group, research unit, management team or virtual team. In each type of team, people work towards a common goal.

When a team works well, the members complement one another. In addition, you will have – to a greater or lesser extent – the same individual interests, which are in line with the team interest. A team is also characterised by a sense of shared responsibility. 

The GROW interviews

Within GROW we distinguish three types of interviews: start interview, annual interview and interim interviews.

As a PhD candidate, you are part of GROW like all other staff members. However, the emphasis during the start interview will be on your Training & Supervision Plan, in which your goals and development have already been discussed and set down in detail. You can naturally also use this plan when preparing for your interim interviews and annual interview.

Because you’ve only just started in your position, your manager takes the initiative for scheduling a start interview. You hold a start interview within three months after commencing in that position. You will both receive an email reminding you to schedule the start interview. We advise you to schedule the interview at least three weeks in advance, so that you have enough preparation time.

When preparing for the start interview you can use the helpful preparation documents for staff members and managers in the GROW toolkit. These documents give all the steps you should go through and also, for example, tips for ensuring a good start interview. You will also find many other useful tools and training courses in the toolkit.

During the start interview, you not only look back on the past onboarding period but also look ahead to the forthcoming period. The interview structure is described in the GROW regulations.

The initiative for scheduling the annual interview lies with both you and your manager. However, your manager retains the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that the annual interview takes place. The annual interview should be scheduled at least three weeks in advance. You and your manager will receive a reminder by email when it’s time for you to arrange an annual interview.

When preparing for the annual interview you can use the helpful preparation documents for staff members and managers in the GROW toolkit. These documents not only give all the steps you should go through but also tips for ensuring a good annual interview, along with other useful tools and training courses.

During the annual interview, time is spent on both looking back over the past year and looking ahead to the coming year. The interview structure is described in the GROW regulations. The interview can be adjusted in line with different groups of employees: for example, different goals will be set by a researcher and by someone who works in operational management. For all employees, however, the themes of performance, development and well-being are important elements of the interview.

In interim interviews, you and your manager discuss progress on agreements about goals and development, and your well-being. If necessary, agreements may be adjusted. Any adjusted agreements are also set down in writing in the GROW tile.

Holding regular interim interviews is highly recommended, but these interviews are not compulsory. You decide together with your manager whether you hold them and, if so, how they’re structured. For example, you could think of a more formal ‘bilateral meeting’ or an informal coffee chat or check-in. How often you hold one of these interviews or conversations depends on your wishes or needs.


You can give and receive feedback at any time, and it’s not only intended for the GROW interviews. The GROW toolkit contains various tools to help with feedback, such as a 360 Degree Feedback form and e-learnings. These can help you with asking your colleagues how well they think you do your job and how they feel about working with you. After all, it’s valuable to hear how others see you and how your behaviour affects others. Feedback is aimed at promoting your personal development.

Yes, of course. Managers too are requested to ask for feedback and/or to be open to receiving it. As a result, the GROW interviews become more a dialogue than a top-down interview, and are aimed at promoting teamwork and personal development.

It’s possible that you may work in multiple teams. The basic principle is to ask the team where you work most often, but you can also ask for input or feedback about your team contribution and your development in other teams. A summary of this feedback can be appended to the GROW reports.

GROW tile in the Service Portal

From 1 September 2024 there will be a special GROW tile in the Service Portal on the staff website. This is the application where you save the reports of your GROW interviews. You will use this tile for preparing a GROW interview and finalising the report. You will do all this together with your manager.

Until the new GROW tile becomes available on 1 September 2024, we will continue to use SAP Self Service for writing reports of the Performance & Development (P&D) interviews. The GROW tile will involve the following changes:

  • Writing reports is simpler and faster: the online form for the report is shorter and clearer, with three input fields, and everything is included in the one form.
  • Detailed assessment using sub-scores is replaced by a simpler and faster report without a numerical score.
  • Easy access to the system, whether you’re working at home or in the office.
  • When agreements are changed (arising from interim interviews), the changes can be recorded in a supplementary report.
  • The second assessor is no longer part of the approval flow for the report.
  • From 1 September 2024 everyone will be able to access the GROW tile. P&D interviews can therefore still be conducted until 31 August 2024.
  • New P&D interview reports can still be created in Self Service until 1 October 2024. All existing reports must be completed on or before 31 December 2024. From 1 January 2025 the ‘P&D interview’ tab will no longer be available in Self Service. All completed P&D interview reports will then be available in the GROW tile.

All completed P&D interview reports will be made available in the GROW tile. You will therefore be able to transfer agreements from the previous interview cycle to the annual interview. Suppose, for example: you have a P&D interview report from 01/05/2022 and a P&D interview report from 01/05/2023 and you’re going to create a new GROW annual interview; in that case, you can choose to transfer all the agreements from the 2023 P&D interview report.


  • When preparing for the interview, you have already prepared much of the report via the online form (to be found in the GROW tile in the Service Portal). Your manager has four weeks after the interview to make changes to the report and also to the assessment.
  • The GROW regulations describe in detail what happens after the manager has approved the report: you can make changes to the report, sign it for approval (if you agree with it) or sign it as seen (if you don’t agree with its contents).
  • If you haven’t taken one of these actions within four weeks after the form was received in the system, the form will automatically be signed as seen. The GROW regulations also describe what to do if you and your manager are unable to agree on certain points that are set down in a report.

If you’d like more information about writing reports, please see the Quick Start for the GROW report.

Your GROW interview reports will be saved in the online environment, which can be found via the GROW tile in the Service Portal. You will also be able to find your earlier P&D and GROW interview reports there.

GROW encourages everyone to reflect on your own performance, your development and your well-being. Writing this down in a report helps you with preparing for the interview. The level of detail or the contents of that preparation can naturally be different for each employee. The main point here is always good coordination between the employee and the manager.

You are free to append evaluations (such as teaching evaluations) to your annual interview. However, the emphasis in the GROW interviews is much more on the quality of your work and less on quantitative results.

Some aspects of the Academia in Motion programme in 2024 and 2025 are focused on developing new quality criteria for teaching and research. These are expected to also contribute to reducing the focus on quantitative results. 

The GROW tile records the reports per employment. If you have several employment contracts at Leiden University, these often involve different work activities, supervisors and GROW interviews. In the GROW tile on the Serviceplein you must therefore select for which employment you want to start a report.

If you formally have two or more employments, but in practice it is one employment with one supervisor, then you do not need to duplicate the reporting. Put the reporting in the GROW tile under the employment with the largest number of fte's. For equal fte, choose one of the employments.

GROW toolkit

All the documents you need in order to prepare for the GROW interviews (start interview, annual interview and interim interviews) can be found in the GROW toolkit.

Designed specifically for managers, staff members or teams, there’s a wide range of tools and training courses to help you further develop your GROW interview skills. We know from experience that this has a positive effect on the quality of the interviews. These training resources can be found in the GROW development menu.

By the term ‘well-being’, we mean that things are going well for you in the physical, mental and social areas. A lower sense of well-being can affect your ability to work and may ultimately result in taking sick leave. It can therefore be important to talk about this.

A discussion tool is available to help with talking about well-being, making use of the Positive Health model. In preparation for your GROW interview, you can fill in this model to visualise what’s happening and what’s important. The conversation about this gives insight into possible solutions. You don’t need to use the whole model, and can select just one dimension from the model for discussion. This discussion tool can be found in the GROW toolkit.

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