Dealing With Poor Performance In The Workplace

An employee’s poor performance and any problems with capability to do the job have to be carefully managed. There are a number of key factors that should be considered at all times when dealing with poor performance in the workplace:

  • Always set achievable targets
    Make sure poor performance is not related to unrealistic targets. Set your target to what is realistic and practical to achieve.
  • Use your business plan to assess performance
    It is useful to review performance by comparing actual results with projected results. This enables you to assess how each area of your business is performing and the impact the employee is having on it.
  • Do not confuse redundancy with poor performance
    In cases where new technology or procedures reduce an employee’s usefulness, be careful not to mistake this for poor performance. If an employee is no longer useful to your business, the redundancy procedure must be followed.
  • Ask for explanations and validate them
    Always offer employees the opportunity to explain their poor performance and obtain evidence to support its accuracy. For example, if illness is an explanation, where possible, seek medical verification.
  • Give additional training where appropriate
    In cases where employees are not reaching the desired standards, consider whether additional training would be useful.
  • Avoid being unreasonable when poor performance is linked to disability
    When an employee is unable to meet performance targets due to a mental or physical disability, reasonable adjustments, either to targets or work methods, should be made to accommodate the employee’s requirements.
  • Offer encouragement and assistance
    This can help to motivate employees and may help to highlight any potential improvements to how work is organised.
  • Consider reasonable adjustments
    Take the time to assess whether any simple adjustments can be made to improve the performance of an employee. All employees are individual and so are their needs, for example, some employees can carry out mental work more effectively in the mornings, while others are more mentally efficient in the afternoon.
  • Follow a fair procedure
    When disciplining or dismissing an employee due to poor performance, follow a fair procedure, refer to the ACAS Code of Practice to Discipline and Grievance.
  • Do not unfairly dismiss an employee
    Always follow legal regulations and your business’ dismissal policy, which should be made clear and accessible to employees.

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Dealing With Poor Performance In The Workplace


Kathryn is a highly experienced HR Manager with a wealth of skills and knowledge acquired across a variety of industries including manufacturing, health and social care and financial services. She has worked in small localised business and larger multi sited organisations and is comfortable liaising with senior managers and union officials as well as answering queries from team members. Connect with Kathryn on:

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