Top Tips for Managing Poor Performance

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Do you have an employee whose performance isn’t up to parr? Is a member of the team standing out, but for the wrong reasons? How do you go about addressing this in the right way, to get a result that is beneficial to everyone without falling down cracks that could land you in hot water with the courts?

When managing performance having a solid procedure in place is key and will ensure a consistent approach. First and foremost is the importance of regular appraisals and 1:1’s (including during probation). Issues can be addressed and monitored in the early stages evidencing dedicated and supportive management, rather than waiting for things to unravel and reach boiling point.

If there is a need to take a more formal approach, take a step back and have an informal chat first. Be reasonable, fair and transparent, tell them what your concerns are, ask them if they are having any personal issues at home or with their health as these could be contributing to possible mistakes, lower productivity or just not seeming to engage. Perhaps it is the work itself or maybe there is an issue with one of their colleagues or a Manager that is leading to stress and anxiety and sleepless nights. Be careful of anything that would fall under a protected characteristic. Explore their understanding of their role and job description. This initial chat will gain some insight into whether there is anything you can do, if the issue is workload then perhaps extra support, guidance or training can be introduced. If illness, stress or something of a more personal nature are contributing factors then perhaps you will need to look at some reasonable adjustments.

Document the meeting (even though it is informal), to show that you have been reasonable and collaborative. If there is still no improvement then this is when you implement a more formal approach. Be careful not to mix up ‘can’t do’ and ‘won’t do’ – the latter would fall under a disciplinary procedure.

Using your Performance Management Procedure, follow these steps:
  • tell them your concerns
  • explore their understanding of their role and capabilities
  • offer support and training or reasonable adjustments
  • set some SMART targets and objectives – don’t set them up for failure, be realistic with the targets as well as the deadlines and manage their expectations
  • allow them to contribute some ideas
  • arrange the next meeting
  • document everything
If after all of this there is still no improvement then you could consider redeployment into a new role or dismissal on the grounds of capability. Exhausting all the options and a systematic process will in essence cover your back should any ill feeling lead to an unfair dismissal claim. You will be able to prove that you have taken all of the appropriate steps, that you have been fair and in no way discriminatory. There will always be risks around dismissing employees but these can be mitigated by being organised, methodical and astute.

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