Dealing with Poor Performance at Work – What you Need to Know

Dealing with poor performance at work for
employers can be a sensitive and daunting issue to broach with an employee, the
temptation for an employer is to leave the discussion until they are at the end
of their tether and they just want to dismiss the employee. It’s really important
to deal with this at an early stage, the reasons are it’s
far more likely that an employee can then turn their performance around – offering training
and support can result in a positive outcome and this can be less time
consuming and costly than going through a poor performance procedure and then potentially
having to recruit a replacement. Being able to show that you have given the employee
support and an opportunity to improve will then improve your chances of carry out a fair
dismissal and avoiding successful claims made by employees. If you’re an employer
you should either follow your own policy on capability or poor performance, or if you
don’t have a good policy in place or you don’t have one at all, use the ACAS guidance on capability procedures. What’s key is that the employee should be left in no doubt
of what your standards are for them to perform and the work that is expected of them.
The first step is to have an initial investigation into the issue,
keep it as informal as possible and this should include a discussion with the
employee – it’s quite possible that you may discover issues that need to be
addressed instead or as well as poor performance, for example a lack of performance could
be caused by ill health or a disability, poor management in the team, harassment or bullying, or too heavy a workload. It’s sometimes possible to resolve these
sorts of issues by a formal discussion with an employee. If matters can’t be
resolved informally and a formal procedure needs to be started,
this should entail holding several meetings with the employee to consider their
performance, ways to prove it and to set and review targets for improved
performance. If you’re having formal meetings with an employee they should be allowed to
be accompanied by a colleagues or a trade union representative, or another person
if this is what is required by your own policy or procedure, or if it would
be reasonable in the circumstances – for example you might come to the conclusion
that the employee that you are dealing with is vulnerable in some way or has a
disability whereby you need to make a reasonable adjustment and you might allow them to
take a family member instead. If you decide to take formal action you
should write the employee setting out your concerns regarding their
performance, the reason for your concerns, and invite them along to a meeting to
discuss the situation. The letter should explain the possible outcomes following
the meeting such as a disciplinary warning and ultimately if their performance doesn’t
improve, potentially dismissal. The length of the review period
should depend on the nature of the poor performance, the needs of your
organisation and what’s reasonable in the circumstances. If the employee’s performance does
not improve following a series of meetings
this could culminate in their dismissal. At each stage where you take a disciplinary decision or action the employee should be allowed to appeal
that decision and this must be outlined in the letters informing the employee of
the outcome of each stage of the procedure. Hopefully you will be able to nip such issues quickly in the bud and provide
training and support that will improve employees and the way that they’re
performing at work, however in some circumstances it might be worth
considering if it would be preferable to offer the employee some kind of exit
by way of settlement as an alternative to a capability procedure – however
discussions like these need to be handled extremely carefully including to avoid
potential claims so if it’s something that you’re considering doing it’s advisable to take legal advice first of all. So what is key is to deal with these issues sensitively and promptly, if you do there’s a good chance you will improve the
performance in your workplace and also maintain good staff morale, not only
for the individual concerned but also the rest of your team.

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