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Performance Management - The Ins And Out

View profile for Elizabeth McGlone
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If you do not manage to address poor performance in the early stages of an employee’s career with you then ensure you have robust management procedures in place to deal with the situation should it arise:

  1. Appraisals – a resilient and meaningful appraisal system is required within a business to measure employees’ performance.  The setting of objectives and targets and allowing employees to feed back on their own performance can be very conducive if there is a need for performance measures to be taken.  If appraisals take place regularly then progress and the meeting (or failure to meet) objectives can be assessed immediately and addressed.  If there is a sudden dip in performance then this needs to be investigated to ascertain whether there are any underlying circumstances affecting an employee’s performance.  Appraisals are often conducted once a year but regularly update meetings can ensure that poor performance is not overlooked and allowed to escalate.
  2. If you do note that an employee’s performance has deteriorated ensure that you act promptly and consistently.  An informal meeting can sometimes be sufficient to ensure that performance improves.  This meeting can be held on the basis that if performance does not improve over the coming 4 weeks then a formal performance management process may have to be invoked.  It may be that this meeting reveals the reason for the drop in performance and measures can be put in place to enable the employee to improve.
  3. If performance does not improve over the next 4 weeks then you, as the employer, can move things forward to a formal performance management process.  This should reflect the performance parameters set out clearly in the employee handbook.  If this procedure is not included in the handbook then ensure a fair and objective process is undertaken.
  4. Invite the employee to a first stage performance management meeting.  This is convened as matters have not improved since the informal meeting that was held some 4 weeks ago.  Discuss with the employee the issues that have arisen, the areas of concern and the requirements going forward.  This should be set out in an improvement plan (performance improvement plan (PIP), performance management plan (PMP).  Agree with the employee the objectives to be set down and the timescale in which they should be achieved.
  5. After 4 -6 weeks the PIP/PMP should be revisited with a catch up meeting.  If the objectives have been met and performance has improved to the required level than the process can be abandoned with a view to ensuring regular catch-ups are held to ensure the employee ‘stays on track.’  If performance has not improved sufficiently then proceed to the second stage of the PIP/PMP in the same vein as the first stage.
  6. If, after the second stage of the process the employment is still under-performing and not underlying or mitigating circumstances have not been identified (i.e. health) then you take the decision to terminate an employee’s employment on the grounds of capability.   A third and final meeting should be held to convey the decision that the employment will be terminated on the grounds of performance/capability.  An employee whose employment is terminated in such a way is entitled to payment of their notice period, accrued yet untaken leave and salary to the termination.
  7. As with any dismissal procedure or internal process ensure the meetings with the employee are minuted, kept on file and the minutes and copies of any documentation supplied to the employee for review and comment.  On terminating employment the employee should be offered the right of appeal and to be accompanied to an appeal meeting by a work colleague or trade union representative.

A performance management process/capability procedure is not instantaneous and takes time and effort to manage.  An employee must be given reasonable opportunity to improve and the decision to terminate employment, if the outcome, must not be deemed pre-determined.