HR Basics: Under-Performance

What Should I Do If An Employee Is Not Performing?

Telling one of your employees they are under-performing can be a daunting prospect. You may be wondering where to start. First, get a handle on what under-performance means, then think about what might be causing it. Understanding why it’s happening will help you to decide what to do next. Follow these steps to identify and deal with under-performance effectively and fairly.


1. Figure out whether you are dealing with under-performance or misconduct.

UNDERPERFOMANCE MISCONDUCT
Poor quality of work / not meeting standard Unacceptable lateness or absence
Not hitting deadlines Poor attitude to manager, colleagues or clients
Poor productivity for time spent on work Violence or disruptive behaviour

2. Identify the possible causes of under-performance

It is important to think about the possible causes before you consider whether you will take informal or a formal approach to managing under-performance. Consider the following;

  • Have you made expectations clear?
  • Has the employee had sufficient training to carry out the required work?
  • Is the workload too high?
  • Personal issues with the employee
  • Communication issues between the employee and his or her manager or colleagues

3. Come up with a plan

Think about timescales that you are looking at for the employee to improve and then sit down and discuss this with the employee. It is important that;

  • The employee is clear as to what is expected of him or her
  • You have provided clear feedback on the employee’s performance
  • The employee is very clear about the gap between his or her performance and the required expectations.
  • You have an agreed plan outlining what improvement you expect of the employee, by when, and the support you have provided to help the employee improve.
  • The agreed action plan has been in place for long enough for the employee to demonstrate some improvement.

4. What if the informal process has not worked and the employee is still not performing?

If the informal approach hasn’t worked, and the employee is still under-performing, you should develop a formal performance improvement before considering any formal disciplinary action. Set some SMART objectives, put them in writing and discuss with the employee with clear deadlines. You should clearly explain in writing that the consequence of not meeting the objectives set out in the plan may lead to disciplinary action.

5. No improvement

If there is still no improvement, you may proceed to a formal disciplinary process.

FAQs About Underperformance

THE EMPLOYEE I WANT TO TALK TO ABOUT PERFORMANCE IS PREGNANT OR HAS A DISABILITY. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

Meet with the employee as normal to discuss the performance issues. If the employee states that their disability or pregnancy has caused the performance issues, you could discuss potential reasonable adjustments or support so their performance can improve.

If the performance issues continue to deteriorate you can arrange a further meeting to discuss this. It is important to address the issues even when employees have a protected characteristic.

THE EMPLOYEE WENT OFF SICK WHEN I RAISED THE ISSUE OF PERFORMANCE. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

Arrange a welfare meeting to discuss the employees’ sickness and then decide whether a potential Occupational Health report is necessary.

When they return from their period of sickness, you would then arrange an informal meeting to start discussing the performance issues.

Should you have any questions feel free to reach out to our help line. DLP advisors are available to answer any questions you may have—24 hours a day—at 0330 400 4454.

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