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How do I deal with an employee’s poor performance?

Dealing with an employee who isn’t performing can be daunting and needs to be handled sensitively. Our top tip however is don’t ignore it until you’re at the end of your tether and want to dismiss – intervene early and see if you can put things in place to turn performance around. If you do need to explore an exit from the business please see the relevant FAQ.

Showing that you’ve given someone support and an opportunity to improve reduces the chance of a claim, if you eventually do need to dismiss.

Do follow your capability policy, or if you don’t have one, at least the Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary & Grievance Procedures (the Disciplinary section covers poor performance too).

Be crystal clear on the performance standards required. Always find out the facts and get the employee’s input. Don’t pre-judge: always be alive to potential causes like ill health, poor management, workload, bullying or other issues within a team.

An informal approach is to be encouraged but be prepared to use a formal approach. This will include formal meetings which include setting and reviewing targets to improve performance. If a formal process is needed you will need to write to the employee in advance with your concerns, inviting them to a meeting and setting out the possible outcomes, e.g. a warning or ‘improvement notice’, or ultimately dismissal.

Always confirm the outcome in writing, and set review periods that are appropriate to the role but give a reasonable period for improvement.

Remember that with any formal outcome, including dismissal, you must give the employee the opportunity to appeal.

Do also watch our video clip:

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