When you first notice that there may be a performance issue, there are steps you should take.
- Think about the possible causes of the under performance and particularly anything you have direct control over i.e. have you provided enough training, have you made your expectations clear, is their workload too high etc?
- Make sure you talk with your member of staff as soon as possible to explain your concerns and explore their view. Although it is important to prepare by thinking through possibilities and solutions, you need to avoid making assumptions or leading the discussion in a particular way. You may realise through discussion that there are things you have over looked or not considered, for example, many performance issues stem from health/personal problems that you may not be aware of.
- Agree what the issues are and what needs to change, what needs to be put in place to help them do this and what action each of you will take.
- Agree regular meetings to discuss and review the issues if you do not already have these in place. In the first instance, regular catch up meetings are the best place to discuss performance issues.
- Confirm your agreed way forward in writing to them (probably email at this stage) and monitor progress. Timescales for reviewing progress will differ depending on the role and grade of the member of staff, the specific issues and the interventions required.
NB: In writing means that you should confirm what was discussed and what was agreed, detailing expectations, timescales, support required etc. The purpose of this is so both parties have a common understanding of what the issues are and what needs to change, are clear on the next steps and there is a record to measure progress against.
What if there is no improvement?
There will be occasions where the interventions above will not have the desired effect. If this happens, you should:
- tell the member of staff as soon as you are clear that the improvement plans have not worked, being specific about any short falls;
- make sure they understand the seriousness and what might happen if their performance does not improve for example, progression into formal procedures;
- arrange meetings to continue to monitor performance. If you have discussed performance as part of more general meetings up to this point it is probably better now to set specific time aside to discuss the performance issues;
- continue to confirm these discussions in writing. You may choose to use letters instead of email if you feel you need to reinforce the escalation of the situation.