It can seem easier to ignore a poor performer. Dealing with the situation can seem daunting to managers and sometimes it’s uncomfortable to deal with things you would rather avoid. However, there is no advantage to delaying the inevitable. If an employee is not reaching the standards you expect in your business (and to avoid more serious disciplinary consequences and disruption to your business) there are steps you can take to try to improve the situation.
What do I need to consider?
Good performance management helps everyone in the organisation. If employees are working with an unmanaged poor performer in the team it can hit morale.
Ask yourself if it is fair to ignore a performance issue. Are you managing these types of issues fairly and consistently? Wouldn’t it be better to resolve a situation early than letting it escalate?
How to recognise a poor performer
The best source of information about performance is generally the person who directly manages the employee. Are they making more errors than other members of the team? Do they take up more management time? Do you suspect that they may not have the capability to do the job? If so, the employee may have a performance issue.
Identify the cause of underperformance
If poor performance is unusual for the employee, communication is the key. Regular appraisals can help to understand any issues to nip them in the bud, but a general culture of open communication is important. Does the employee have personal problems that are affecting their work? Are they under undue pressure and unable to cope? Are they being bullied or have they recently been moved or promoted into a new role with isn’t suiting them?
If you are unable to resolve the poor performance by dealing with any of the issues already mentioned, it could be that the employee is unsuited for the role or your business.
What to do to improve poor performance informally
Explaining to an employee that you are unhappy with the quality of their work is a difficult conversation to have and managers may benefit from training in this area.
Hold a meeting with the employee with the aim of setting targets and a reasonable time limit within which you expect improvement. This would generally be called a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP). Offer training, mentoring and support (as appropriate) to help the employee and put the targets to them in writing explaining that disciplinary action may follow if there is no satisfactory improvement.
You must be able to measure and assess the targets you set to ensure fairness. It is very important to be able to demonstrate that you have provided the necessary support to help the employee to improve.
When poor performance becomes a disciplinary matter
If informal action fails to improve performance then disciplinary action will be necessary. This can mean a first written warning if performance hasn’t improved following the initial informal meeting. If the employee still doesn’t improve their performance then a final written warning may be given and ultimately there is dismissal as the last resort. Be careful to follow your disciplinary procedure and provide the necessary support to improve the employee’s performance throughout.
What do I do if I don’t want a protracted disciplinary case?
A settlement agreement can be an option. It is a legally binding voluntary agreement where the employee will waive their rights to make any sort of claim at the employment tribunal or in court. A settlement agreement usually involves a payment to the employee from the employer.
We are happy to advise you on any of the stages described in this article please get in contact