How to deal with a member of staff that isn’t up to scratchNatalie Lewis
Communicate clearly, keep a decisive paper trail, learn from the situation and don’t replicate it!
You’re feeling guilty, stressed and you’re not sure what you can and cannot say – yes you’ve got a member of staff that’s not up to scratch and you’re not sure how to deal with them in the best manner.
So what are you going to do?
You could sweep the whole situation under the carpet and hope that it gets better but you know that it won’t, in fact it’ll probably get worse and could possibly end up costing the company a significant amount of money. It may also affect team morale.
The first place to start is to consider whether or not the problem with the employee is down to poor performance due to their capability or whether it’s more a question of misconduct. Often more succinctly put as ‘can’t do’ versus ‘won’t do’.
If the poor performance is due to negligence, laziness or carelessness rather than incompetence then you would usually treat this as misconduct through the disciplinary process. If it’s down to incompetence or aptitude then this would usually be managed through a performance management process. It’s important to get the associated process correct.
Performance management is a period of time where an individual works towards tasks, goals and expectations. If no significant improvement is made, it may result in their dismissal. An employee must be given a chance to improve and a process followed with warnings if little or no improvement is seen. If the desired improvements don’t materialise, dismissal can then follow. Always keep a paper trail! This is a formal process and they will need to be given certain rights such as the right to be accompanied by a companion.
Consider how you would approach a conversation with someone regarding their performance. Avoid being over-critical and aim to be constructive. Think about training and support you can provide. Whilst this may feel like a long process, generally it’s more cost effective than finding a replacement.
Whatever the outcome, you do need to ensure that you learn from it. How can you ensure that this doesn’t happen again? Will you have the same problems with a replacement? You need to review your recruitment process, consider a 6-12 month ‘onboarding’ process and ensure that you are recruiting candidates based on your company’s values and not just on skills / qualifications alone.
Make effective use of a probation period (I recommend 6 months); gather information about an employee’s ability and suitability throughout this period, not just at the end when you have to pass, extend or terminate. Remember that during this time you can write in contractually shorter notice periods and negate the need to go through strict formal policies to ensure any underperforming employee has not been unfairly dismissed. If you don’t have this in your contracts – pick up the phone!
If you have a poor performer or are considering dismissing an employee, pick up the phone and chat the scenario through with me to make sure you won’t find yourself on the wrong side of the law – 020 8798 3470.
(This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal, or other professional advice. I would advise you to seek professional advice before acting on this information).