Performance management can be a powerful tool for businesses.
The American entrepreneur Bob Parsons commented that "every business everywhere is staffed with imperfect human beings and exists by providing a product or service to other imperfect human beings". While perfection may not be attainable within a workforce, the fact remains that employees should be able to perform their duties properly and add value to the employer's business.
The focus on employee performance has intensified in response to the economic downturn; businesses have to work smarter which includes increased pressure on them to eradicate poor performers. On the face of it, the law permits dismissal on the basis of poor performance but the dismissal will only be fair if the employer has:
â- Addressed whether dismissal would be fair in light of the particular circumstances.
â- Followed a fair procedure before arriving at that decision.
Rarely, if ever, will there be a circumstance when employment can be terminated immediately on the basis of poor performance. Instead, employers need to be satisfied that:
â- The employee knows what is expected of them.
â- The organisation has brought these expectations to the employee's attention.
â- The employee has been made aware that they have not been performing to the required standard and offered the opportunity to explain why this is the case.
A simple and effective way of monitoring performance while motivating staff is by way of an appraisal system. In order to be effective, appraisals should be conducted at least biannually and in an honest yet constructive manner. Managers should be trained properly to appraise staff; the process should not be heavy handed, cumbersome or take an inordinate amount of time.
Whenever performance issues are raised or a dismissal arises as a result of poor performance, there is scope for claims by employees which could include:
â- Breach of contract.
â- Unfair dismissal or constructive unfair dismissal.
â- Discrimination and harassment.
Rachael Jessop is an employment solicitor at Floyd Graham and Co
](firstname.lastname@example.org)The do's and don'ts of performance management
î¬ Assume the reason behind the employee's poor performance
î¬ Tell the rest of your workforce your views on the employee's performance
î¬ Store up problems until the appraisal. Nothing at a formal appraisal should come as a surprise to an employee
î¬ Apply inconsistent targets and expect the employee to improve overnight
î¬ Assume that the employee's performance can improve without the organisation's input
î¬ Delay any review for more than four weeks
î¬ Sanction or dismiss an employee without offering a right of appeal
î¬ Assume that the employee's record of meetings will be the same as yours
î¬ Dismiss without taking advice if there is no audit trail to show the employee has been advised that dismissal may be a possible sanction
î¬ Investigate the problem: there could be reasons given for the poor performance which require further investigation, for example, health issues and lack of training
î¬ Deal with the matter confidentially
î¬ Make the employee aware of the problem at the time
î¬ Give the employee the opportunity to improve within a realistic timescale
î¬ Provide the employee with support and possibly training
î¬ Review the employee's progress periodically
î¬ Ensure a fair procedure is followed
î¬ Keep an audit trail of each step taken and all meetings
î¬ Confirm in writing what improvement is expected and what the possible outcome might be if improvement is not achieved