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Chamber HR News – Dealing with Staff Performance & Capability July 23, 2007

Posted by liverpoolchamber in Business, Chamber HR, Chamber Services, Services.

Following last week’s article on Grievance & Disciplinary, this week we look at Performance and Capability. Further advice and documentation can be found by visiting the ChamberHr website www.chamberhr.co.uk

If you have not received your website log in details or you are a new member and would like to register to use the service please contact the membership team by email at membership@liverpoolchamber.org.uk or by telephone on 0151 227 1234.


Employment Tribunals are starting to look favourably at employers who implement a specific procedure to address issues with performance and capability.

Traditionally employers have tended to utilise the Disciplinary Procedure to address issues relating to performance. However, employees often find themselves demotivated when going through a process that is more commonly known for addressing bad behaviour.

Therefore a procedure specifically designed to address performance and capability often leads to a more focused individual with specific targets and goals to achieve and the likelihood of successful outcome is higher.

The format of a performance and capability procedure should mirror that of a disciplinary procedure. However, the phraseology tends to be softer and the level of training and support is dramatically increased.

It is important for employers to show that they have taken time to help and assist the employee during their employment period. Matters relating to poor performance or capability can have a number of causes. These could just be that the employee is not capable of doing the job but frequently there are also issues relating to a lack of training or instruction by the employee’s supervisor.  Occasionally the poor performance may be of a temporary nature.

It is important to investigate carefully what the reasons are for the poor performance, are there any underlying concerns or issues for the employee at work? An employer should aim to try and assist an underperforming employee. There should be a careful consideration of the problem and the ways in which the employer can assist through additional support, training etc.

Progress or lack of it should be carefully monitored and recorded. When a warning is given officially there should be a plan of action for the future set out, which clearly explains:

a.   How the employee is underperforming.

b.   What the employee needs to do to achieve the level of performance reasonably expected by the employer.

c.   How the employer will help and assist.

d.   The reasonable time frame for improvement to be achieved.

e.   Warned of further performance action if there is insufficient improvement.

To fairly dismiss someone for poor performance it is important to go through a proper and fair procedure that is applied consistently to all employees.  The more that process shows levels of support and assistance the more the employer is protecting their position if the matter goes before an Employment Tribunal.

Small/Medium organisations frequently face the problem of the under-performing employee and frequently fail to deal effectively with the problem. Why is it difficult? Is it just impossible to actually improve an under performing employee?

An employer has to identify the problem before a solution can be found. Is the problem an under performing employee or is it a more fundamental problem? Is it a problem with management, does the employee know what is expected of them or are they being given insufficient assistance and support to achieve the targets required?

The starting point for any employer is the identification of the issues. Once the issues have been identified a plan of action can then be formulated. Until all the issues are known no plan can be entirely successful because it is not going to address the actual problems.

Next Week’s Issue: Dealing With Redundancy

For further information on any of the topics covered in our news letter or for further advice log on to the website www.chamberhr.co.uk. Or call the 24 hour advice line on 02920 349614.



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