HR Matters: Navigating Performance Management

Date: 16/04/2019
Author: Freeths
Company: Freeths

Last month saw the latest HR Matters seminar in collaboration with Freeths LLP, which this time focused on Performance Management. A tricky area to navigate for any HR team, with issues of employee engagement, underperformance and even termination of employment contracts. Luckily, our employment experts gave us a run down on key things to remember when implementing performance management in your business. Most importantly – make sure you use it!

Key takeaways around performance management involved:

  • Always start with the company values! Performance Management should centre around the individual and their specific role. Markers of performance need to be tailored and specific to a person, reflecting the overall aims of the business and role.
  • Positive Performance Management is just as important! Reviews and appraisals should be carried out with a view to retain, develop and encourage the employee, rather than being relied upon solely for termination.
  • Proper manager training is key! Managers who have become so through promotion need sufficient training to be able to cope with the demands of performance management, and it is important to remember that one size does not fit all when it comes to managing people. Individuals respond well to different styles, and this should be kept in mind during training.

What about poor performance or even termination?

When it comes to using performance management in a more negative capacity, namely, to deal with underperforming staff and potential termination, company policies can be helpful to structure the process. However, they must be clear, and it is useful (and more enforceable) if this policy has included continual management, even when performance is good. Having a structure that employees are clearly aware of is very helpful when approaching performance management and helps them to understand what is expected of them in their role.

If a formal procedure is taken, employers are best to make it clear at the outset the reasons for the decision and the process itself to the individual before sending any formal letters of concern. If consistent reviews have been held, then this allows any formal procedure to be a part of a logical wider conversation which is beneficial for both the employer and the employee.

Any claims made against managers during a formal procedure must be investigated seriously for any truth, but the manager should be properly supported as it is common for employees to attempt to delay the process with such tactics. If a settlement is preferable to the business, it is important to make clear any boundaries of protected conversations and be clear that you are fully prepared to take on the formal procedure should they break these boundaries.

Critically, it seems that the key takeaway when it comes to performance management is to integrate the process into the business and use it as integral to understanding individual development. This allows the employee to have an awareness of how they’re doing, feel supported and also covers the business should they need to enter into a more formal process with a particular individual.

Find out more!

Our monthly HR seminars with Freeths LLP are excellent places to share best practice, experiences and gain some free legal advice on a range of HR issues, as well as network with others in your field. The next topic to be discussed will be Social Media, and how it affects your business. If you or a member of your HR team would like to be involved, please get in touch at to find out more.