How to handle performance capability concerns

Managing capability concerns

Employee performance issues can affect your business in a number of ways, like customer and/or client complaints, potential financial losses and even employee relation issues.

There are several things that can constitute employee performance capability concerns, including underperformance and missed targets.

But what do you do when an employee’s underperforming? Sometimes an informal chat may be all that’s needed for the employee’s performance to get back on track. However, there are times that more formal action may need to be taken.

Initial discussions

If you have any performance concerns, in the first instance, we’d recommend having an informal, one-to-one chat with the employee.

This should be in an informal meeting set with a friendly tone, and with a view to finding out what’s wrong and if there are any reasons behind the performance issues.

During the meeting, you should highlight the issues that have cause for concern, and ask the employee if there are any reasons why they might be underperforming in a certain area; it could be that they’re going through some personal issues, for example.

It’s important to support the employee throughout the meeting, and discuss other ways you can support them – like by offering additional training where necessary, for example.

Agree some realistic objectives with the employee to help them get their performance back on track, and it might be useful to set up regular review meetings following the initial informal meeting.

What next?

If the informal approach doesn’t result in improvements being made, then a formal process will need to be followed. To get the ball rolling for a formal process to commence, you should first invite the employee to attend a formal performance review meeting.

There are a number of steps to take when addressing performance concerns under a formal performance management process, and the process can be lengthy. Why? Because you need to give the employee adequate time to make improvements, undertake training and partake in regular review meetings.

Your formal process should be adapted based on the employee’s circumstances and level of improvement. If the employee’s performance does improve, you may wish to put their performance management process on hold.

Negotiating your way through the hurdles of a fair process can be tricky, and a lot can depend on whether the employee makes any improvements and at what pace.

Here at Citation, we’d always recommend seeking legal advice before starting performance discussions – whether they be formal or informal.

Can you dismiss someone over capability concerns?

You may be able to dismiss an employee over performance capability concerns, providing you’ve followed a fair and thorough process – which can take at least four months if not longer. Remember, failure to follow a fair process could result in tribunal claims.

Not got the time?

If the thought of waiting at least four months to dismiss a poor performing employee fairly sends shivers down your spine, then our experts can talk you through pragmatic solutions and offer commercial options where necessary.

Alternatively, if you need assistance negotiating your way through a formal or informal performance process, then our HR & Employment Law experts are here to offer step-by-step guidance.

For more information on how we can start helping you and your business today, get in touch with the team on 0345 844 1111 or

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