1. Don’t ignore poor performance. You know how it goes, you have a full day ahead of you, then a member of your staff does something stupid, or something that isn’t up to your standards. You feel you don’t have time to bring them up on it, so you decide you’ll leave discussing it until some other time. Sometimes you then get around to it and sometimes it just gets forgotten – until this problem comes up again. Putting it off doesn’t work for you or the employee as often too much time has passed to make the feedback effective and the same errors can keep happening in the meantime. Where possible try to address the issue promptly, while it’s fresh in your mind. Regular discussion with the staff (both telling them what they are doing well and addressing areas to improve) is key.
  1. Give any direction to improve in private. No one likes feeling that they are being corrected in front of others. Find a quiet space to speak where there is no one else around. Speak calmly, explain the issue (and the impact on the business, team or customers) and ask the employee what they think they could do differently next time. If they need more technical training, get this arranged quickly so their skills increase. Add some positives if you can so the employee also knows what they are doing well.
  1. Make a written record of each of these quiet words. Always make a written record that you can go back to later, if you need to. This will then help if the person is not improving and you need to take more formal action. If you do decide that the person is not shaping up and you wish to dismiss, or you want to give a written warning, give us a call as there are formal processes you should follow. Failing to do this can result in an unfair dismissal claim and compensation of up to £78,962.
  1. Be clear on responsibilities. When staff change roles or take on new responsibilities, confirm this in writing to them. Issues can arise later when these changes happen without been documented, so try to stay on top of the admin if you can. A clear job role document should set the basic expectations against which you then manage any employee.
  1. Get a fit-for-purpose appraisal system. You might feel put off by bureaucracy of appraisal systems and the time they can take. Appraisals can really help you understand what your staff think and need and give you an opportunity to keep channelling them in the right direction. They can also help you deal with issues rather than putting them off. Consider starting with a very simple model where you look at how the staff are doing, set future objectives or targets, and agree any development and training opportunities.

If you have any questions or concerns about HR or employment law matters, please contact Verity Slater, Head of the Marine Team, on 01872 265100 or employment@stephens-scown.co.uk