How Do You Discuss Performance in a Positive Way during Appraisals?

Following on from my previous blogs on appraisals – What are the Benefits of Appraisals and Preparing for an Appraisal Interview – I thought it would be helpful to go into further detail about how to deal with an employee’s performance in a positive way during an appraisal. This is especially important if there are negative issues and room for improvement.

It’s important that you are realistic about capabilities and can provide both positive and negative feedback in a positive manner. Negative feedback should be provided in a way that shows that you understand that your employee may need further training, or may have other issues that could be impacting their work. Give them an opportunity to speak freely. This allows them to feel understood, validated, and gives them the opportunity to agree to improvement in the areas needed.

Many people find the thought of these conversations daunting, mainly because it is hard to predict how an employee will respond to negative feedback, unless you know them very well. Here’s some advice on how to handle difficult conversations. Once you’ve learnt these tips, you should find it much easier to have those tricky conversations.

Before the appraisal interview, prepare as much as possible. Ensure you have the following factors listed below in a document that you can store in your employee’s HR file – ideal for measuring improvements over the years.

These factors should be properly defined and used for quantifiable evaluation, which you can share with your employee at each meeting, motivating them to make the necessary improvements. By providing this clear, regularly updated information, appraisal meetings will be far more focused and productive.

Factors for assessing employee performance
 

Job knowledge

 

How in depth is the employee’s understanding of the job? Do they have complete clarity on their responsibilities and the procedures associated with the role?

 

Quantity of work output

 

This can include, for example, promptness in completing allocated tasks, and their reliability in meeting deadlines.

 

Quality of work

 

How clear and accurate is their work? How much supervision is required? Do they effectively meet their objectives?

 

Planning and organisational skills

 

How effective is the employee’s ability to plan and prioritise their work effectively, coordinate different elements of the work, and delegate where appropriate?

 

Ability to learn and develop

 

The speed at which new duties and/or skills are mastered are key to their capabilities, as is the employee’s perceived willingness to learn new things. Consider additional training if there is a weakness.

 

Paperwork

 

How accurate and timely is the employee in the completion of reports and other relevant paperwork?

 

Communication skills

 

Is the employee’s written (including e-mail) and verbal communications with colleagues, superiors, subordinates and/or customers clear, accurate and effective?

 

Working relationships

 

How good is the quality and effectiveness in both working as a member of a team, and their relationships with colleagues and/or customers?

 

Motivation

 

Is the employee’s level of enthusiasm for his or her work noticeable? And how willing is he/she to take different tasks on board, or make extra effort, when asked?

 

Initiative

 

Check on their ability and willingness to come up with constructive ideas, offer suggestions and take responsibility.

 

Supervisory ability

 

 

Where relevant, how effective is their ability to manage, motivate and lead staff effectively?

 

Performance Ratings

Appraisal schemes should contain a system of performance ratings – a scale on which each employee is graded, based on the factors listed above. A grading scheme might run from 1 to 5, with 5 representing outstanding performance, 3 representing competent performance, and 2 or under representing performance below the required standard.

Where such a system is in place, line managers may find themselves challenged by employees who believe that their ratings should be higher than those awarded. Where there is a difference of opinion, you should discuss with your employee:

  • why the employee was graded at the specified rating, backed up by evidence of how the rating has been arrived at; and
  • why the employee believes that he or she should be more highly graded.

Ask your employee to give specific reasons to justify their belief. You need to be prepared to listen to your employee’s point of view, remaining open-minded about the ratings until the interview has been concluded.

Finally, try to remain positive and supportive throughout the appraisal. Use positive words as much as possible, such as ‘improvement’ and ‘achievement’ rather than ‘failure’ and ‘weakness’. Be aware of your body language so that you don’t alienate your employee. Remind them that you all want to achieve success together – their proactive approach to working to the best of their ability and more helps both the business and them as individuals to have a far more successful future.

If you need any help with carrying out appraisals and performance assessments, do call me on 0118 940 3032 or click here to email me.

 

 

How Do You Handle Employee Suspension? Part One – Practice and Principles

In cases of alleged misconduct by one of your employees, in order to ensure that any dismissal is fair, you should investigate the matter to determine whether or not disciplinary action is necessary. The fairness of the dismissal depends on whether or not there is a fair reason for dismissal and, in the circumstances, whether or not you, as the employer, acted reasonably in treating it as a sufficient reason for dismissal. How you investigate the matter will be relevant to whether or not you acted reasonably.

In some cases, it may be appropriate for you to suspend an employee from work pending the completion of the investigation. However, given the serious implications of suspension for an employee, including for his or her morale and professional reputation, you must ensure that the circumstances of the case justify it, and that it is necessary to ensure a fair investigation. Suspension will not be necessary in every case.

The Acas code of Practice

The Acas code of practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures provides practical guidance on dealing with disciplinary and grievance issues in the workplace. The code states that employers should pay a suspended employee during the period of suspension, keep the suspension as brief as possible and keep the suspension under review. You should make clear that the suspension is not disciplinary action in itself.

The non-statutory guidance that accompanies the code says that suspension may be necessary, for example:

  • where relationships have broken down
  • in cases of gross misconduct
  • where there is a risk to an employee or company property, or responsibilities to other parties, or
  • in exceptional cases, where there are reasonable grounds to suspect that evidence has been tampered with or destroyed, or witnesses pressurised.

General Principles

While it is preferable for you to have a contractual right to suspend an employee, where the circumstances justify it, you can still suspend without one. You should ensure that the employee suffers no detriment as a result of its decision to suspend, and as such, the employee should be fully paid and benefit from the same terms and conditions of employment throughout the suspension.

If the contract of employment contains a procedure that applies to the suspension of an employee, you should ensure that you comply with it, as a failure to do so may enable the employee to claim breach of contract, and/or to resign and claim constructive unfair dismissal.

As an employer, you should not suspend an employee without just cause. It is not appropriate to suspend simply because investigative enquiries are being made, where the particular circumstances don’t require it. If it is necessary to remove the employee from, for example, contact with particular colleagues or clients, you should consider if suspension can be avoided by using a less drastic measure, for example a temporary change to the employee’s duties or department.

Where the circumstances of a case justify suspension, you should advise the employee of the reason for the suspension, how long it is likely to last, and that it is a neutral act that does not indicate guilt. You should make clear to the employee that the suspension is not disciplinary action in itself, and that disciplinary action will not necessarily follow.

You should also aim to keep the suspension and the reason for it confidential, so as not to cause damage to the employee’s reputation, particularly as the investigation will not necessarily result in disciplinary action. Where it is necessary to explain the employee’s absence, you may consider discussing with the employee how he or she would like this to be communicated to clients and colleagues; this may be appropriate particularly if the employee holds a senior position. Where the employee’s colleagues are aware of the suspension and/or the disciplinary issue, for example if they are witnesses or involved in the investigatory process, you should explain that the suspension is a precautionary measure while the matter is being investigated, and that it will not necessarily result in disciplinary action. Employees should be encouraged to treat the matter as confidential. You may wish to provide managers with a statement confirming how to respond to queries relating to the suspended employee’s absence, to ensure that a consistent message is communicated.

Think that you might need to suspend one of your employees? Call me first, before you do anything! We can discuss the situation in complete confidence, to help you make the best decision. Call me now on 0118 940 3032.

Six Common Summer Employment Issues

With high temperatures possible during the summer months, in this blog we’ll look at some employment law scenarios that you may have to deal with, as an employer.

Maximum office temperatures – The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 state that the temperature in the workplace needs to be “reasonable”. However, there is no maximum temperature. What is reasonable will depend on the nature of your workplace and the work being carried out by your employees. Factors such as whether or not the work is strenuous or physical will need to be taken into account.

Unauthorised time off – If a holiday request is refused but your employee goes ahead and takes the time off anyway, it’s important not to jump to conclusions. You should carry out an investigation to establish whether or not the absence was for genuine reasons. If, however, there is no credible explanation from the employee, it may become a disciplinary issue and your disciplinary process will need to be followed.

Summer dress codes – It may be reasonable for you to adopt a more relaxed dress code during the summer months. However, the extent to which your employees may be allowed to dress down when the temperature rises will in part depend on the role he or she performs.

In the case of customer-facing roles, certain standards of presentation may need to be maintained. For health and safety reasons, it may be necessary for employees to continue to wear protective clothing, irrespective of summer heat.

One way or the other, you should ensure that the dress code is reasonable, appropriate to the needs of your particular business and does not discriminate between groups of employees.

Competing summer holiday requests – Under the Working Time Regulations 1998, you are not obliged to agree to an employee’s request to take holiday at a particular time, unless the employment contract provides otherwise.

If competing requests for holiday are received from different members of staff, your managers may prioritise requests, provided that they do this in a way which is fair and consistent, for example on a first-come, first-served basis.

To avoid the short periods of notice for requests and refusals, it makes sense for your business to have its own holiday policy in which you can set out your own notice provisions and other arrangements relating to holiday.

Late return from summer holiday – Issues may also arise in the case of an employee who returns late from his or her summer holiday. In the first instance, you should allow the employee the opportunity to provide an explanation. Supporting evidence, for example a medical certificate in the case of ill health, should be requested.

However, if the explanation does not appear genuine, you will need to consider following your disciplinary policy.

Summer work experience – The school summer holidays are typically a time when employers offer school-age children the opportunity to carry out work experience. You do not have to pay a child of compulsory school age while on work experience. However, all other rules and restrictions on employing young people will apply, and relevant approvals from the local authority or school governing body will need to be obtained.

Is your business ready for more heat this summer? If you need any advice regarding working conditions for your employees over the summer, just get in touch. You can call 0118 940 3032 or email me at sueferguson@optionshr.co.uk.

Source: XpertHR

Performance Management – How Do You Get The Best From Your Team?

In May 2017 I ran a webinar where we talked about performance management and what you can do to get the best from your team. We covered the success factors of performance management and what effective performance management requires. We discussed the differences between formal and informal performance management and the day-to-day issues that need to be covered. We also looked at Personal Development Plans and how you can use them to get the best from your employees. There was a lot to get through, so I thought I would share more tips here.

Performance management is fundamental to the effectiveness of your organisation, dependent as it is on your people for the goods and services that you provide. Each person can make a difference. Collectively, a workforce that performs at high levels can help your organisation to survive and prosper in a competitive marketplace.

What is Performance Management?

Performance management consists of two parallel processes:

  • the informal, day-to-day management of individuals and teams by their immediate line manager and
  • the formal framework within which the performance of individuals and teams is assessed and improved.

The two processes are mutually supportive and depend on the same factors for success. They involve:

  • monitoring individual or team performance against accepted benchmarks or standards
  • feedback on performance – both praise (positive reinforcement) and feedback highlighting unsatisfactory performance
  • ensuring that negative feedback is delivered in an objective manner and is accompanied by an explanation of why the performance is unsatisfactory, affording an opportunity for the employee to provide an explanation as well as the means to improve in the future
  • coaching, training or other support to address poor performance
  • follow-up monitoring to check that the performance has improved, with the improvements reinforced with positive feedback
  • the option to progress to formal procedures, such as the disciplinary or capability procedures if poor performance continues and represents serious cause for concern.

Effective Performance Management

Effective performance management depends on the quality of the supervisory and people management skills of those responsible for managing your company’s workforce. It requires capable, motivated managers to put the parallel informal and formal performance management processes into effect. It requires the business to have simple but effective formal performance management procedures for your managers to use. Effective Performance Management also needs effective recruitment processes that result in suitable individuals being recruited to people management roles.

In addition, your business needs good induction, and training and development systems that give individuals the skills, knowledge and experience to manage performance effectively. Incentives – psychological rewards, tangible rewards or both – to encourage the workforce to take performance management seriously must be considered. And finally, your company needs formal structures that allow it to make sure that both managers and their reports are observing the performance management policy.

As you can see, improving the performance of your people first requires effective management of that performance, with the processes and procedures to support it. Start by putting the necessary processes and procedures in place and you will be able to effectively improve the performance of your teams.

Listen to the Webinar

If you missed the webinar that I ran on 31 May 2017 and you would like to listen to it, you can hear it here. If you joined us on the webinar, you can also listen again, in case you missed anything.

When you click the link, you’ll need to register by putting your contact details into the form on the page and then you’ll be able to download the webinar and listen to it as many times as you like.

Performance Management – How to Get the Best from Your Team

In May I delivered a free webinar that covered a number of aspects of performance management and how to get the best from your team.

We talked about the success factors of performance management and what effective performance management requires. We discussed the differences between formal and informal performance management and the day-to-day issues that need to be covered. We also looked at Personal Development Plans and how you can use them to get the best from your employees.

If you missed the webinar and you would like to listen to it, you can hear it here. You need to register by putting your contact details into the form on the page and then you’ll be able to download the webinar and listen to it as many times as you like.

If you have any questions about how to improve the performance of your team, do get in touch. You can call me on 0118 940 3032 or email me at sueferguson@optionshr.co.uk.