My HR support to small charities and social enterprises often involves advising clients on how to manage poor performance of employees.  This can be a difficult area to manage and below are some of my observations from supporting managers with this issue over many years:

  • Many issues can be tracked back to a poor decision at the recruitment stage, e.g. an essential skill required to carry out the role had not be evaluated appropriately, e.g. no practical test for IT skills had been carried out at the selection stage, or qualifications were not checked etc.
  • Another common reason for poor performance, is that an existing employee has been conveniently slotted into a vacant role. However sometimes insufficient consideration has been given to the skills set required for the vacant role versus the skills set that the employee actually has.
  • Poor performance may be linked to poor health. This may require input from the employee’s GP or an occupational health specialist to understand what you can do to support the employee.  This is particularly important where the poor health is related to a condition which may be considered a disability.  In this case the employee will be protected by the Equality Act 2010.  You will have an added responsibility to consider fully any reasonable adjustments that can be made to facilitate the employee being able to reach acceptable performance standards.
  • Supporting an employee and monitoring their performance through the probationary period will often provide the essential information for you to assess whether the employee is suitable for the role. If not, then it is normally easier to part ways at this stage than to deal with the consequences of a poor fit further down the line.
  • Never avoid discussing your concerns with the employee. This will give both you and the employee the opportunity to make a plan of how performance may be improved through additional support, clarification of expectations, setting timed objectives and ongoing review.  Avoidance of tackling performance issues inevitably leads to increased frustrations on all sides and generates more complex people issues to deal with as it often impacts on the rest of the team, other people and the charity/social enterprise.
  • If an informal approach does not improve the employee’s performance then you will need to consider managing it more formally, either through your disciplinary or capability procedure.

If you need support then please do contact me.

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