Capability vs Disciplinary – Case Study 2 – Suggestions to Combat Underperformance

Last week we introduced you to Karen, she has been underperforming for the last eight years with your company.  She is unsociable, intimidating, rude and fails to take responsibility for her actions.  This has led to numerous complaints from her peers, supervisors and managers, with one colleague threatening to resign as a result of Karen’s behaviour.

What action should you take to deal with Karen? What procedures should you invoke? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Conduct an informal interview with Karen in the first instance with the aim of getting to the root of the problem.  Ask her to explain why she is behaving the way she is – what are the underlying problems from her point of view
  • Gather evidence from other people – her colleagues, supervisors and managers.  In particular talk to the person that has threatened to leave, find out what has been going on and persuade them to stay by reassuring them that you are dealing with the problem
  • Get input from your HR department and consultants.  It can be very valuable to get input from someone who can look at the overall situation and be impartial.  The line manager cannot do the investigation and  decision making
  • Don’t let it go on too long – Karen’s manager may need help with performance reviews / dealing with staff issues
  • If all else fails invoke a formal disciplinary procedure including informal and written warning and dismissal if appropriate.