AN organisation which is exceeding its corporate objectives is likely to have a highly motivated workforce.
The adoption of a continuous programme of new initiatives to engage staff will strongly influence how people perform and contribute to these objectives. Positive policies that recognise and reward strong performance and provide opportunities for career progression are likely to be at the top of the agenda. This is often the easy part. The hard part for many organisations, and equally their managers, is having to confront poor performance. Tricky conversations around low output or substandard work will often be put off for another day. It is only when a complaint is made, or the broader ambitions of a usually effective team are hampered, that there is a call for the instant removal of the offending employee.
Whilst evidence of the employee’s poor performance may have accumulated, dismissal, in the circumstances described above is likely to be unfair; the lack of any fair process will let the employer down and could be the trigger for an employment tribunal claim.
Before the dismissal of an underperforming employee can be contemplated, employers are required to satisfy some basic requirements including carrying out an investigation, providing a reasonable opportunity and support to improve and warning what the consequences will be if the required standard is not achieved.
To address the general perception that performance management is too time-consuming, employers can introduce some simple but effective measures to manage performance before a problem arises:
* Communicate the expected standard of performance. Contracts of employment, job descriptions and internal policies and procedures are the best tools. Keep these documents under review as standards are likely to change as the organisation evolves.
* Use probationary periods to assess an employee’s suitability for the role.
* Introduce regular two-way communication; this can be more effective than announcing there is a problem at the end of the year. Employees are also more likely to raise their own issues. It may emerge that a dip in performance is due to ill health or a disability, bullying, poor management or excessive workload.
* Ensure that managers are able to both challenge and support their team members to improve performance. Extra training with the emphasis on developing appropriate communication skills may be needed.
These measures will help to shift the focus away from difficult conversations and formal processes, whilst at the same time allowing the organisation to optimise the performance of its people.
If you would like advice on any of the issues raised in this article, please contact us: 0808 172 93 22 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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