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Performance management FAQs

When should staff be escalated to stage 1 – first formal management of performance issues?

Managers should raise a member of staff's performance with them and document it as part of their normal day-to-day management.

Every effort should be made by managers to support and improve a member of staff's performance to a satisfactory level. As evidence that all support has been exhausted, managers should keep a timeline for their reference and summarise discussions held with the member of staff in writing.

If performance issues persist, contact HR for advice on moving the member of staff to stage 1 – first formal management of performance issues.

Discussions to informally support a member of staff to improve their performance have not been documented. Can stage 1 of the performance improvement process be initiated if the staff member has failed to achieve their objectives?

HR should be contacted for advice prior to any decision to move a member of staff to stage 1 – first formal management of performance issues.

Most performance issues can be identified and managed informally at line manager level, but there will be occasions where a staff member may require their performance to be formal managed.

Documentation is extremely important and shows that a manager has taken time to properly assess the member of staff's performance and take the necessary steps to support them in meeting a satisfactory level. Documentation helps managers to plan and ensure a consistent approach, but also outlines the expected level of improvement of the staff member.

Documentation is an essential requirement to formally manage a member of staff's performance at stages 1 and 2.

When is it appropriate to initiate stage 2 of the performance improvement process?

Stage 2 – final formal management of performance issues should be only be considered after the:

  • 6 (maximum 12) week stage 1 review period, and
  • performance improvement plan has been completed

If there has been very little or no improvement after this period, further formal action may be required.

The review period can be extended, to no more than 12 weeks, if there has been improvement but performance is still below an acceptable standard.

Managers should seek advice from the HR Advisory team before making a decision to escalate to stage 2 or extend the review period.

When should HR be involved in the performance improvement process?

Managers should contact the HR Advisory team when considering to move a member of staff's performance concerns to stage 1 – first formal management of performance issues. If stage 1 is appropriate, managers will be allocated support from a HR advisor to support the process.

How do managers identify performance concerns?

To identify performance concerns, managers will need a clear idea of what is considered to be 'good' performance to enable consistency and fairness within the department. Expectations should be outlined to staff during their local new starter induction and through regular discussions at one to one meetings.

Managers must establish if the identified concerns are a capability (can't do) or conduct issue (won't do). Capability relates to a member of staff's skill, aptitude or knowledge to complete their full job role; as per the job description and person specification. Performance concerns may be identified through peer/supervisor feedback, complaints, your own observations or failure to meet departmental KPI's/task deadlines.

What is the best way to approach a member of staff with concerns regarding their performance?

Managers should avoid the 'critical parent' approach and have a supportive adult conversation that encourages the member of staff to be part of the solution.

Conversations regarding performance should be structured; outlining the key performance concerns clearly using examples, specify what the member of staff is expected to deliver and how this will be achieved (i.e. training, mentoring or supervision). Summarise and document the discussion in writing to the member of staff. SMART objectives should be jointly agreed and met over a sensible and manageable timeframe.

A member of staff has met their smart objectives and made a satisfactory improvement following a first improvement notice/6 week performance improvement plan. What are the next steps?

No further discussions will be necessary if the staff member has met the required performance levels and all SMART objectives have been met to a satisfactory standard by the end of the performance review period (stage 1 or 2).

Stage 1 – first formal management of performance issues will remain 'live' on the member of staff's file for 6 months from the date of issue. Stage 2 – final formal management of performance issues will remain 'live' on the member of staff's file for 12 months from the date of issue.

Should further or similar performance concerns arise during the stage 1 or 2 notice period, performance management can recommence from the stage the member of staff was previously at.

A member of staff has raised allegations of bullying and harassment following performance concern discussions. What should the next course of action be?

Staff do not come into work to intentionally do a bad job. When a member of staff has been advised that their performance is below the required standard, this may become a distressing situation for them. Equally, if staff are not happy in their role or work environment and have not received constructive feedback before, they may perceive this to be bullying.

If a member of staff raises bullying allegations against their manager, the performance process should be paused and the reason why they feel this way explored along with asking them to provide examples. Managers should listen to the staff member's concerns and discuss a resolution. If the individual is not comfortable raising concerns with their manager, the member of staff should be made aware of alternative ways to raise their concerns by their manager.

It is advised to attempt to resolve concerns informally which could involve escalating the issue to the next line of management within the department or division. If the member of staff continues to feel bullied or aggrieved with the situation, they should seek advice from HR. Managers should provide members of staff with a copy of the dignity at work procedure, which details the steps they can take to address their concerns.

A staff member has identified an underlying health condition which may be impacting on their ability to perform to the required standards. What should the manager do?

Managers should explore the underlying health condition with the member of staff and identify any adjustments they feel they need in order to support them. If medical advice is required, the manager should arrange an Occupational Health referral and discuss the recommendations with the member of staff upon receipt of the report. Managers can seek further advice from the HR Advisory team.

A staff member believes they have been discriminated after being advised their performance is below the required standard.  What should the manager do?

Managers should explore why the member of staff feels this way and on what grounds. If a local, informal resolution cannot be reached, the member of staff may wish to raise a formal complaint and seek advice from the HR Advisory team or their union representative.

Managers should provide members of staff with a copy of the dignity at work procedure, which details the steps they can take to resolve or raise their concerns formally.

A staff member has raised concerns of feeling stressed in the workplace. What should the manager do?

Managers should explore the stressors with the member of staff and identify the relevant support in order to reduce their stress. 

Managers should sign post members of staff to the Trust's health and wellbeing information on the intranet. Alternatively, managers can refer the member of staff to Occupational Health and provide contact details for the staff counselling service. Managers should ensure any such documentation is clearly recorded and provide the staff member with a copy, which includes the discussions held, issues raised and the support offered and what actions have been agreed, including a date and time for the next review.

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