How Can You Improve Staff Performance?

Dear <<First Name>>

Imagine that one of your members of staff has been with you for a number of years, when, one day, his manager tells you that he should be let go, as he’s not performing well. What happened? When did he stop performing to the best of his ability? You check the employee’s file, to see that he’s been given good scores at every annual appraisal. What’s gone wrong? Is sacking him really the answer?
In this issue of HR Watch, we’ll look at how you can maintain and improve the performance of your employees, through regular contact, for their own benefit and also that of your business.

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How Can You Improve Staff Performance?

Most managers don’t enjoy carrying out annual appraisals. This means that every year, they are likely to say the same things to the employees they manage, who then don’t enjoy the process either. Some managers don’t like delivering bad news, some won’t tell employees that they don’t think they’re performing as well as could be expected, or meeting all their targets. Some managers won’t discuss issues with members of their team until an appraisal, by which time it could be too late. There are of course managers who are quite the reverse of this!
In order to really address issues of poor performance, managers need to deal with issues as they arise, communicating with the individuals concerned and working on improving the situation on a regular basis. That way, no one will be surprised by a sudden announcement of poor performance and possible sacking.
In addition, managers are often too busy to spend time with their employees and to really take notice of what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. It is too easy to assume that employees know what is expected of them and that they have all the resources they need to carry out their jobs.
If you find yourself needing to work with an employee who is under performing, you could deal with it as a disciplinary issue. However, this would be stressful and time consuming for all involved. A better approach is to implement an Improved Performance Plan with them. This involves having regular meetings with the employee and working out what needs to be done to improve the situation. It allows members of staff who are struggling with their job to ask for help. They should be encouraged to go to their manger with any problems they are having, to ask them which work is a priority, to help them meet their deadlines.
The first stage is to carry out an initial investigation and meeting. You should invite your employee to a meeting, to which they are allowed to bring a work colleague. You will need to do your research so that you have evidence of their under-performance; you need hard facts and genuine examples. By doing this, you may get an idea of why they might not be doing their job as well as you expect them to. One thing which will certainly help is a clear job description, reviewing past appraisals and checking that they received a good induction when they first joined your business.
At the end of your meeting, you might decide that you don’t need to take further action; you may need to refer the matter for investigation under your disciplinary procedure; or you might give guidance to your employee on what needs to be done to improve their performance. In the latter case, you’ll need to put together an action plan to which you both agree, and schedule appropriate meetings to review progress.
At the end of the review period, you should assess the employee’s performance against the objectives set. If improvements have been made, then no further action will be required, but performance must continue to be monitored on a regular basis. However, if it has not improved sufficiently then you should set up a Stage Two Meeting. We’ll cover this in the next issue of this newsletter, in order to go into it in sufficient detail. However, if you need help now with improving the performance of any of your members of staff, please do get in touch now – don’t leave it until it’s too late! Call us on 01635 600 305 or click here to email us.


Practical HR – Give Him a Fair Chance!

Bill was really surprised when one of his managers, Brandon, came to him and announced that he needed to sack one of the long-serving members of the sales team, Barry. Brandon hadn’t been with the business for very long (in fact you might recall how he was recruited in this issue!) “But I like Barry,” Bill thought to himself.
“Why do you want to sack him?” he asked Brandon.
“Because he’s not hitting his sales targets. He sits around the office all day and doesn’t bring in any new business. He’s not pulling his weight and he needs to go.” Brandon was quite insistent.
Because Barry had been with the business for a long time and was a nice chap, Bill decided to look into it. Together with Brandon they looked at Barry’s file. Every year at appraisal time, Barry had been given a glowing review by his previous manager (remember Brian and the social media issue?!) So why was he doing such a poor job now? Bill decided to have a chat with Barry, to see if he could identify the problem.
“Brandon is concerned that you’re not going out to see potential clients and bringing in new business,” he told Barry. “Brian was happy with your performance, so what’s gone wrong? Why aren’t you following your job description?”
The answer that Barry gave him made it all clear. “I’ve never been given a job description,” he explained. “I don’t drive so have always done prospecting on the phone and I never once had an appraisal meeting with Brian!”
Find out next time how Barry can be helped to hit his targets through the use of an Improved Performance Plan.

Employment Law Update

When you employ staff, you need to keep up with all the changes to Employment Law that happen throughout the year. Here are a few issues you might need to know about for your business.

Holiday Pay – There have been a number of high profile cases around calculations for holiday pay. On 8 January 2015 the Deduction from Wages (Limitation) Regulations 2014 came into force. They limit claims for back pay of incorrectly calculated holiday pay to two years under the deduction from wages provisions in the Employment Rights Act 1996. 
Workers who have been unable or unwilling to take their statutory holiday entitlement for reasons beyond their control, including but not limited to sickness, will be entitled to carry holiday over to the next leave year as an exception to the usual rule that holiday entitlement expires at the end of a leave year. You can find out more about calculating holidays and holiday pay here.

Zero Hours Contracts – These have been in the news a lot and when used correctly they are very effective, e.g. for students during holiday periods or seasonal work. The Government has now banned the inclusion of exclusivity clauses. This means that no employer can try to prevent zero hours workers from doing other work, or stop them from working without the employer’s consent. Click here to find out more.

Got a question about any issue covered in this newsletter, or any other employee concern within your business? If so, don’t leave it to turn into a bigger problem – get in touch now to ask for our advice.


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