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When an employee underperforms in their role or is not meeting business expectations, it is a difficult situation for all parties. A poor performance process enables the employee to lift their performance. This is through additional feedback that details the specific reasons their performance is flagging. Poor performance tips can enable you to achieve good outcomes with underperforming staff and provide a basis to dismiss if an employee cannot lift their performance despite the opportunities to do so. This article will set out three tips on how to run a poor performance process. These include:

  • being specific with the performance issue;
  • the importance of ongoing check-ins and extra feedback; and
  • caution to take your time before the dismissal of an employee for poor performance. 

Be Specific With The Performance Issue

Before beginning a poor performance process, take some time to consider what the specific problems are with the employee’s performance. These will differ depending on the role, your business, and the employee. However, having a clear idea about the issues is the first step toward improving them. It is not enough to have a general sense that the employee is a ‘poor performer’. This vagueness is not helpful and would not provide a legal basis to dismiss an employee, especially as there has been no fair opportunity to improve.

It is a good idea to talk to another manager who works directly with the employee to assess their work and areas for improvement. After you have identified specific issues with the employee’s performance, you should ensure you carry this through to the employee’s performance improvement plan to provide tangible feedback.

Undertake Ongoing Performance Improvement Meetings

Too many managers set a performance improvement plan in place and then leave it, with the implication that the employee will either sink or swim. This is not productive when it comes to improving employee performance. It is also not in line with your obligations as an employer. After setting a performance improvement plan, you should consistently check in with the employee to see how they are going. This includes:

  • planning regular meetings to provide feedback to the employee about how they are going; 
  • offering suggestions and helpful advice to the employee to help them achieve their performance improvement plan goals;
  • not cancelling or postponing planned meetings or reviews (as far as possible); and
  • giving the employee honest feedback, clearly communicating if their performance continues not to reach expectations.

The performance improvement plan should have a detailed timeline so the employee knows to expect the meetings and check-ins. At the end of the timeline, there should be a formal meeting with the employee to review their performance. This review should be a natural continuation of the previous meetings and check-ins. The employee should have a good understanding already of how their performance aligns with the business’ expectations.

Do Not Rush to Dismiss For Poor Performance

One of the most common mistakes made by managers and employers is to dismiss an employee for poor performance too quickly, without running a fair and reasonable process to allow the employee to lift their game. While poor performance can result in dismissal if the employee’s performance does not improve, an employer must give the support and time to do so. Employers must give specific feedback and warnings to the employee. It must be clear that they must improve their performance or face serious consequences – including dismissal.

Many employees will be able to improve their performance if they are given:

  • direction about why their performance is not up to standard; and 
  • ongoing feedback and support. 

Dismissing an employee for poor performance is usually a worst-case scenario. Still, there may be little choice for your business if an employee cannot improve their performance despite having had many chances to do so.

Key Takeaways

There are many elements to running an effective poor performance process. You should make sure to start with a clear understanding of the specific areas in which the employee is not meeting expectations and communicate these in a performance improvement plan. It is then essential to continue to support the employee through the process and provide them with feedback and further opportunities to improve. Finally, you should take your time before moving to dismiss an employee for poor performance. They must have been given several opportunities, over a long period, to improve. If you want to know more about running a poor performance process at your business, contact LegalVision’s employment lawyers on 0800 005 570 or fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long should a poor performance process take?

A poor performance process can take anywhere from several weeks to several months. However, it should be long enough to give the employee a genuine opportunity to improve their performance and make amendments or changes to their work. They also need time to reflect on meetings, checking in, and additional feedback. This usually means poor performance processes should take multiple months, or until the employee’s work improves.

Can a formal poor performance process result in dismissal?

Yes, a poor performance process can result in dismissal if the employee’s performance does not improve despite many opportunities to do so and following specific feedback and warnings that they must improve their work. 

Do you need to record what happens in meetings when checking in with an employee on a performance improvement process?

Yes, you need to document these meetings and ideally provide written feedback to employees about how they are tracking. This is better for the employee and can also be used to show that you provided feedback and support to the employee.

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