Managing Under-Performance

Essentially, the steps involved in addressing issues of under-performance fit within the general framework of managing performance outlined within this guidance.  Seek advice of Human Resources at any point.

The aim of managing under-performance is to help the individual to improve and to meet the agreed standards. In doing this you will have ensured that:

  • Your member of staff is clear about the performance issue;
  • An action plan has been in place for sufficient time to allow for improvement;
  • Any support identified has been provided, and sufficient time has been allowed improvement;
  • You have a clear audit trail of all of the above with discussions noted, confirmed in writing to the individual and, where possible, that the individual has acknowledged receipt of any written communications. 

When you become concerned about an individual’s performance, attitude or behaviour, then you should try to address this with the individual as quickly as possible. However, before you do this it is important to consider whether there is anything that could be causing the issue, for example, consider:

  • Have I made it clear what is expected of the individual and does s/he have a common understanding of these expectations? If there is any doubt as to whether expectations have been made clear, address this first.
  • Have I been providing appropriate feedback on performance?
  • What support has been provided and what else might be available? E.g. training, guidance, equipment, flexible working arrangements, etc.
  • Are there any underlying issues/ factors that may be impacting on the individual’s ability to perform effectively? E.g. Underlying health or personal issues, interrelationship difficulties etc.  If any are identified they will need further exploration and consideration in some circumstances. For example, a newly raised disability disclosure or medical issue might involve a referral to Workplace Health and Wellbeing. Seek advice from HR as appropriate.

In many cases of under-performance a relatively informal discussion at an early stage should be enough to address the issue.

Understanding the difference between capability and conduct

As the University has both disciplinary and capability procedures it is important to be able to understand which procedure would apply.

Capability Sickness Disciplinary Grievance

When dealing with issues of conduct the Disciplinary Procedure should be used. This is because there is a presumption that the conduct is mostly in the control of the employee, and that with some support they should be able to improve this.

In relation to capability we have two separate procedures i.e. the Sickness Absence Management and the Capability Procedure. As these latter two procedures deal with capability there is more of a presumption that the issue may be outside the employee’s full control, and as such both procedures emphasise the need to consider various options/support.

Performance may also be negatively impacted if an employee has a concern, problem or complaint to do with their work or a person they work with, so it is important that these are addressed fairly and promptly and ,where possible, informally via the Grievance Procedure.

It is also important to identify the issue as this determines which procedure should be used, however, as this is not always clear cut, if you are uncertain, advice should be sought from Human Resources.