Underperforming employees can either be a case of can’t cook or won’t cook. If they can perform but won’t, you may need to go down the disciplinary route; if they can’t perform, you’re dealing with a performance management issue.
Managing poor performance can be a lengthy process, as you cannot dismiss somebody straightaway. If you don’t have the time or expertise, our Employment Law and HR specialists can help.
Get your FREE consultation
Submit your details and one of our team will be in touch.
COVID-19 | FREE expert guidance for employers, including sample policies, template risk assessments and more
How we help
Take the pressure out of performance management
When it comes to performance management, the onus is on the employer to help an employee improve. This means putting a plan in place, setting clear targets and providing support to help them get where they need to be. This is a large undertaking for time-poor managers.
With our fixed-fee Employment Law and HR support, you can offload this burden with help from highly-qualified professionals.
- Conduct an effective and compliant process with unlimited advice from dedicated experts
- Save time with bespoke documentation – invite letters, outcome letters, PIPs and more
- Ensure a fair, consistent approach with best-practice policies, handbooks and management guidance notes
- Get additional HR Consultancy support with job descriptions and performance management frameworks
- Protect your organisation with our optional, FCA-regulated Legal Expenses Insurance
Managing Performance Issues | Following a Fair Process, Unexpected Grievances and Dismissals
Conduct v Performance | What's the Difference?
‘Picking on’ or Performance Managing? How to Address Grievances from ‘Sensitive’ Staff
Engaged employees, working towards collective company goals
Performance management is essential to meeting organisational goals effectively and efficiently. Without the competence to manage this process correctly, your workforce won’t reach its full potential and, worse, you may even end up with bigger issues such as grievances and even Employment Tribunal claims – if, for example, you use redundancy as a way to ‘manage out’ unwanted staff. These situations can also weigh heavily on managers, inviting difficult conversations and potential conflict.
As well as step-by-step guidance through the process, we’ll help you to gather and review evidence to prevent any suggestion that you haven’t provided clear objectives and the right support. Reduced risk, better organisational results.
What is performance management?
Performance management is the process by which the employer and employee work together with the aim of improving the performance of employees so that they can meet their objectives. If the necessary performance improvements cannot be made, then it is possible to issue warnings and eventually dismiss an employee on grounds of poor performance.
What is the performance management process?
Often a performance management process will start off informally with a manager encouraging or setting out what improvements an employee needs to make in a meeting or by email. If those informal methods are unsuccessful, the next step is usually the production of a formal performance improvement plan (PIP), which will set objectives for the employee, timescales for improvement, and the methods the employer will use to help the employee meet these goals. If an employee fails to meet a PIP, often a formal process will follow, which could result in a warning being issued.
What are performance management techniques?
Communication is key to any performance management process. You need to set clear, measurable objectives and timeframes to achieve those. The exact techniques beyond that will depend on the nature of the underperformance but often trying to make improvements will involve training or shadowing colleagues. It’s also important to provide full 360 feedback even outside of formal performance appraisals.
How can I use benchmarks in managing performance?
Benchmarks are often used to compare the performance of one employee against another. In practice this can sometimes be difficult, especially if the quality or quantity of work produced is difficult to measure. However, it is important to try and treat all employees equally, so a performance management process should only be used against someone who is demonstrably underperforming. Often that can only be done by comparing them to their colleagues in similar roles.
What is the best performance management framework?
This can vary from business to business but it’s important that any performance management process sets SMART objectives – those that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. Around your SMART objectives, you can build a performance improvement plan which will set out the objectives and when they need to be achieved by. The PIP will also detail the support the employer will give to the employee to help them meet their objectives, as well as the potential consequences for not doing so. Most Employee Handbooks will also set out a performance management procedure for dealing with issues like this.
What are the best ways to manage poor performance?
By being brave and tackling the issues, setting SMART objectives that are monitored by the use of a PIP and, if all that fails, using a formal process to issue warnings for poor performance.
Why is performance management important?
Proper performance management helps to increase employee engagement and productivity. It should also help align employees to your strategic objectives. Monitoring of performance also helps to spot early signs of performance problems, allowing your managers to stay ahead of the curve in that regard.
What are the benefits of performance management?
There are several benefits of performance management. It can highlight the need for training and help you to better understand the skills of your employees. It helps with your workforce planning and, in particular, can help you to spot talent. It can also boost morale and, in turn, increase employee retention.
Explore our fixed-fee Employment Law support
Advice LineFast, pragmatic, commercial. Our Employment Law & HR advice line gives you and your managers access to truly unlimited advice on all of your people-related challenges, from the seemingly straightforward to the most complex.
What sorts of things can you advise on?
HR matters come with the territory when you run a business or manage an organisation and we’re here to help you through it all. Whether you’re battling absenteeism, struggling to manage an underperforming employee or need help navigating a complicated exercise like redundancy, we can walk you through the steps required to handle the situation appropriately.
Is everything dealt with through one team?
Yes. All of our advisers are qualified legal professionals or on the road to formal qualification, which means a full range of employee issues can be dealt with within your dedicated three-person team. In the event that you’re presented with an Employment Tribunal claim, we will conduct a full handover to our Litigation Team so that they are well equipped to defend you.
Why choose us?
Experts in Employment Law & HR
At WorkNest, we’re known for our bespoke service and the quality of our support. Not only is our expertise unmatched, but we take the time to know you so that we can function as a true extension of your team.
- Your own small team of dedicated experts
- Commercial, pragmatic advice tailored to you
- Bespoke contracts, policies and handbooks
- Trusted by over 35,000 organisations
- Recognised as a leading firm by the Legal 500
Who you’ll be working with
Legal Director – England & Wales
Principal Employment Law Adviser
Executive Director, Privacy International
WorkNest supports our 280 staff members with Employment Law and Health & Safety and has provided quality management training too.”
Head of Service Delivery, Catalyst Choice
We get a great deal of comfort and satisfaction knowing that we have support as and when we need it, in a decisive and responsive way.”
Group HR Director, Culina Group
We moved our legal support to WorkNest (formerly Law at Work) having previously used a time and line law firm. It was important, though, that an all-inclusive fee structure did not come at the expense of quality. Thankfully we’ve been delighted with the service we’ve received from WorkNest.”
What we recognised in WorkNest is the background that they have. They are able to supply knowledge and experience in a number of disciplines, which enables us to develop our business in a way that’s safe, to do it on time and with a quality to it.”
Director of Human Resources and Health & Safety,
Bluestone National Park Resort
Chief Executive, The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust (JRCT)
As the company started to get larger, we knew we had to protect our employees and our contractors both onsite and in the offices. WorkNest is exactly what we needed to move the company forward.”
Operations Director, Beaverfit
Pineapple have worked with the team at WorkNest (formerly Law at Work) since 2003, and we have built a trusted partnership together. We particularly like WorkNest’s concise and practical advice concerning employment law/HR issues and also appreciate their totally supportive approach in all areas of health and safety.”
Pineapple Dance Studios
I’ve taken WorkNest into every organisation that I’ve worked with. I’ve introduced them to many teams and many colleagues and referred them with absolute pleasure because I genuinely trust in the service that we get.”
People Director, The Works
Latest news and insights
It’s often said that an organisation’s workforce or ‘human capital’ is its greatest driving force, and therefore its greatest asset. However, another rule of thumb is that a workforce must function as a well-oiled machine, and in order to achieve this, careful analysis and maintenance is required. Get your FREE consultation This is where performance management comes in – one of the core responsibilities of any team leader, but now a stubborn challenge in this drastically unfamiliar world of COVID-19 and remote
According to Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service), one in ten employers believe their performance management processes were demotivating their employees. When an employee receives praise, feedback and constructive criticism, they are likely to be more motivated about their work. This is especially the case when they feel that their managers are helping them in the pursuit of their individual objectives and taking active steps to support their training and career progression goals. However, when handled incorrectly, it can negatively affect employees’
Few things can be more exasperating for employers than dealing with persistently poor performance. It can seem like an uphill battle to get some employees up to the required standard. But employers should avoid falling in the trap of getting so frustrated they snap and dismiss an employee without having regard to the correct procedure. Can an employer dismiss an employee without giving previous warnings? The general rule is that employees should not be dismissed for performance reasons unless