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What are the most common mistakes employers make in the performance procedure?

What are the most common mistakes employers make in the performance procedure?
  • Not accurately characterising the problem. There can be a cross-over between poor conduct (which should be dealt with under your disciplinary procedure) and poor performance.  It is therefore important to establish the cause of the problem at an early stage.  For example, if an employee’s stock take indicates that stock is going missing it may be due to theft (conduct) or because the employee does not know how to conduct a thorough stock-take (performance).  Equally slow performance could be due to poor performance caused by a lack of training or it could be due to laziness which would be a conduct matter and it is important to identify correctly what the issues are.
  • Not raising performance problems in a timely manner. This is important because raising the problem early makes it easier for the employee to improve their performance, which is often cheaper and less time consuming than recruiting a replacement.  It also means that the employer can make a decision about the employee’s future before they achieve 2 years’ service and also prove that the employee was given a chance to turn things around which is more likely to make any dismissal fair.  Allowing poor performance to carry on for a considerable time without any intervention can also make it more difficult to dismiss, and is very frustrating for the employer!
  • Not obtaining sufficient evidence to support the poor performance. Documentary evidence should be gathered and sent to the employee in the letter inviting them to the first meeting.   The evidence should then be discussed and the discussion documented in the notes of the performance hearings.  A dismissal risks being unfair if the investigation into the poor performance was not reasonable.
  • Not giving the employee sufficient time or support to improve. This is fact sensitive and will depend on the nature of the poor performance, the employee’s explanation, their length of service, the training they have had, whether there have been any changes to their work etc.