Underperformance in the workplace can be a common issue. How do employers go about dealing with poor performance fairly?

Read our top ten tips in managing poor performance:

1.  Ensure the company’s performance management process is FOLLOWED. If you do not have one in place consider implementing one.

2.  Performance issues should be dealt with informally as part of the day-to-day management of employees. REMEMBER: any informal warnings given do not form part of an employee’s disciplinary record.

3.  If matters are not resolved informally, a formal process may need to be implemented. A FAIR and REASONABLE performance management process will require you to hold several meetings with the employee concerned, in order to consider their performance, ways to improve it, and to set and review targets for improved performance.

4.  Before deciding to follow a formal process, you should undertake a reasonable assessment or INVESTIGATION. This would normally involve reviewing an employee’s personnel file including their job description, appraisal and training records, monitoring their work and, if appropriate, interviewing the employee and/or other individuals confidentially regarding their performance.

5.  You should provide the employee with the findings and give them an OPPORTUNITY to comment on them at any formal performance capability meeting.

6.  If formal action is required, you should WRITE to the employee setting out the concerns regarding their performance and inviting the employee to a formal performance capability meeting. The letter should also explain the likely outcome if it is decided that performance has been unsatisfactory.

7.  Allow the employee to be ACCOMPANIED to the meeting by a work colleague or trade union representative and ensure there is a company representative to take minutes of the meeting.

8.  At the MEETING:

  • Discuss the concerns and examine the evidence in this respect.
  • Allow the employee to ask questions, respond to the evidence put forward and to provide any evidence they may have.
  • Establish the likely reasons for the poor performance.
  • Identify what can be done to assist the employee in improving their performance, such as additional training or supervision.
  • Set targets for improvement and a timescale for review.

9.  If performance is UNSATISFACTORY, a written warning may be given. It is good practice to give an employee at least two warnings, and therefore two opportunities to improve, before any dismissal for poor performance.

10.  Allow the employee the right to APPEAL each decision or warning issued. You should ensure that the manager who hears the appeal is suitably impartial and, where possible, more senior than the manager who made the original decision.


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