How to carry out an Informal Meeting
For the Capability Procedure
The below checklist is for guidance purposes only, as it is recognised that the manager will need to determine how best to manage such a meeting based on the individual circumstances of the case. Please do seek advice from HR at any point as needed.
Please ensure that all discussions during this process are fair, appropriate and above reproach.
- Gather all the facts before inviting the employee to discuss specific concerns.
- Identify specific examples to draw upon within the meeting e.g. details of where performance is falling short of expectations.
- Choose a private location and provide adequate time to discuss/explore the concerns.
- Seek advice from HR, if necessary (i.e. you may wish to seek advice on how to generate an appropriate Improvement and Support Plan (ISP) in advance of the meeting).
- Notify employee of informal meeting, via face to face communications, or phone/email, reassuring them that this meeting is not part of the formal stages of the Capability Procedure, but an opportunity for you both to discuss their performance and assess how you may be able to support them to reach the required standard.
- Briefly identify what you wish to discuss at the meeting.
- Hold an informal meeting, reaffirming that this an informal meeting aimed at supporting the individual in addressing specific concerns and/or reaching and maintaining necessary standards/expectations.
- Constructively explain concerns, providing factual examples and describe the impact these concerns are having on the department/area of work.
- Ensure that some positive feedback is provided, where possible.
- Invite the employee to respond to these concerns probing as appropriate, e.g.
- Asking what they feel the problem may be or whether they feel there are any mitigating/contributing factors preventing them from reaching required standards/expectations.
- Does s/he have the support needed?
- Are there any skills gaps / training needed?
- Are objectives clear and understood?
- Does s/he understand the expectations of the job?
- Are there unforeseen roadblocks in the way?
- Has anything else changed, e.g. personal circumstances contributing to issue?).
- Please see sections 2 & 3 of the Capability Procedure for further information in relation to the disclosure of personal or domestic problems, or of a disability/medical issue. Seek advice from HR as appropriate in relation to taking forward / addressing any new disclosures of this nature. See also guidance on reasonable adjustments.
- Acknowledge and consider any factors beyond the employee’s control.
- If appropriate do feel empowered to pause discussions whilst you seek further advice or make a referral to Staff Health and Wellbeing.
- Together, explore what support/training may help improve performance and how this may be implemented.
- Clearly explain relevant expectations and the need for sustained improvement.
- Together discuss and agree any follow up action/targets/SMART objectives and responsibilities for attaining a sustained improvement and the proposed timescales, including period of monitoring/review, (as appropriate). See Top Tips: Setting and agreeing objectives and standards for existing employees.
- Explain the purpose of a Improvement & Support Plan (ISP): intended as a supportive tool to provide clear, achievable areas for improvement; sets out support needed / dependencies etc.
- Generate a Improvement & Support Plan (ISP)/consider any reasonable adjustments (as appropriate). See ISP Template
- Consider any possible needs for further development (i.e. training) if relevant.
- Consider any need for external support (Workplace Health & Wellbeing etc).
- Explain that insufficient sustained improvement, within the time-scales defined, may lead to more formal action.
- Outline formal stage if improvement is not reached/situation not remedied. (Refer to the Capability Procedure).
- Advise that the key points of discussion including any relevant expected improvements/review timetable will be noted and sent to the employee for information.
- Seek advice from HR, if necessary.
- Check if the individual wishes to add anything or has any questions to ask.
- End on an optimistic but realistic note.
Where no informal capability issue is identified, the employee should be advised of this and the discussion closed with no review required.
Where agreement cannot be reached, manager to consult with Human Resources for advice.
- Record summary of the discussions, and share with staff member e.g. any agreed actions and timescales for improvement etc., ensuring that the records are factual and constructive. (This may be held in various formats e.g. via a letter, form, email etc.) See Informal Meeting Record Template
- Store records securely, as these may be subsequently required within later procedural stages and shared with all relevant parties, including the employee, if not done so originally.
- Arrange a follow up meeting to review the situation.
- If appropriate, depending on the issue, regularly monitor and provide feedback on an on-going basis/not only at any potential subsequent review meeting.
- Identify whether there is anything else you can reasonably do to help.
- Address any new issues as they arise.
- Agree further objectives/set next review meeting, if appropriate.
- If process is failing to improve performance consult with your HR representative to discuss more formal action.