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Managing performance effectively

One of the reasons Employers end up in an Employment Tribunal is that they fail to deal with performance issues.

Often performance issues are ignored. After all, nobody wants to spend their afternoon having an awkward conversation about how an employee is not hitting targets! However, it is better to manage poor performance in an effective way to build a positive and responsive workforce and to lower the risks of unfair dismissal claims for your business.

There are a number of practical steps you can take to manage employees’ performance: 

Use probationary periods

If the employee is not performing, we suggest that you take action early. If the employee is not performing to the required standards, managers need to address the areas of concern, rather than allow them to pass their probationary period.

Motivating your staff

There are a number of ways to motivate employees who are underperforming in their role. Examples include recognising good work and linking pay to performance. As well as giving them the chance to progress up the career ladder and giving them chances to attend training. These could all act as incentives to make the employee want to perform better.

Reviewing performance

We recommend that managers should have regular meetings and reviews with employees, giving them frequent feedback. As well as holding an annual appraisal and keeping records of all performance, whether good or bad. The Acas Code of Practice says that employers should carry out an investigation before holding a formal performance hearing and these documents will help with this.

Try to resolve informally

Dealing with an employee’s performance is part and parcel of manager’s day to day duties. They should be talking to employees about their performance, identifying the reasons for their under-performance, and informing them of what the correct level of performance is and how they can improve.

Admittedly it may be a hard conversation, but it can produce good results as the employee understands what is causing concerns and what they can do to make it right.

If this doesn’t produce the desire results, you may need to resort to a formal performance management process.

To obtain advice on this topic, please contact bira legal on 0345 450 0937 or email

Author: Laura Chalkley, Senior Employment Law Adviser and Partnerships Team Leader