Regardless of the industry you work in, you’re more than likely to come across staff members who are not performing their role effectively. There could be a variety of reasons for this, including personal problems at home interfering with work, but how do you address and manage this?

There are two different routes you can follow to deal with a staff member’s poor performance or behaviour. The first is the capability procedure, and this deals with an employee’s ability to carry out their role effectively. The second kind is the disciplinary procedure, and this deals with an employee’s poor conduct or behaviour.

Capability procedure

Before starting a capability procedure, it’s important to assess whether an employee’s poor performance is down to something like insufficient training being given or personal problems at home. If this is the case, then a capability meeting should be held with the employee, rather than a disciplinary meeting.

The member of staff should be notified of the issue and the time/date/place of the meeting. Remember that they also have the right to bring either a colleague or trade union representative along with them.

Conducting the capability meeting

During the meeting, the person conducting it (usually the employee’s line manager) will explain the reason behind the meeting and the staff member will be given a chance to respond. It is the manager’s responsibility to review all available evidence before deciding on what further action is necessary.

If the manager is happy that the employee’s work is to a satisfactory standard (after taking into account any mitigating circumstances), then no further action needs to be taken. The employee should be told this in writing.

However, if the finding of the meeting is that the employee’s work is not to a satisfactory standard, then further action should be taken under the capability procedure. Action will normally include the following:

  • Set task(s) for the employee to complete.
  • Outline a timescale to see an improvement.
  • Provide suitable training.
  • Give the employee guidance and feedback.

Follow-up meeting

Following the expiry of any period during which improvement is required, the employee will be informed in a follow-up meeting that either their performance has improved satisfactorily, that more time will be given or that further action needs to be taken. Again, the employee will need to be given written confirmation of this decision as soon as possible.

Depending on the outcome of the second meeting, the employee should be warned that failure to achieve the desired improvement in performance in the expected timeframe will result in dismissal. This being the case, if the employee is dismissed from the company, they must be given a letter stating the reason for dismissal.

Whilst it is unfortunate to have to dismiss any employee from their role, it’s important that all stages of the HR journey are documented and procedures followed correctly. Failure to do so could mean that the employee files a valid complaint for unfair dismissal and a costly employment tribunal could follow suit.

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