Anthony Dance
MPM Coaching
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Why is Poor Performance not on the HR Agenda?

Why is Poor Performance not on the HR Agenda

Both private and public sector employers share the same problem:

- Line managers are not addressing poor performing employees.

- Middle managers are not addressing poor performing line managers.

- Seniormanagers/executives are not addressing poor performing middle mangers.

Because of this many employers have developed an organisational Culture where Poor performance is being accepted rather tha good performance being expected.

This has been an issue in industry for a long time and a problem that is very much on the Governments agenda.

But the questiuon is this; why is this critically important subject not on the HR agenda? This site is full of comments and discussions relating to engagement, diversity, talent, equality etc. but very little on poor performance.

Is it because HR feel that it is not their responsibility, it is a mangement problem not a HR one? Is it because the subject is not sexy enough or is it realy because poor performance is not as clear-cut as gross-misconduct and because of this HR advisors do not realy know what to do or advise?

There is an excellant comment from Ann Burley re: any answers question 3rd November - Termination of Employment Contract which many readers may have missed. Her comment:

"HR Advisors will tell you what you cannot do whereas HR Business Partners will tell you what you can do" could be right on the nail and worthy of more debate.

It is easy to blame bad mangement for the big problem we have today but is the root cause 'discouragement' rather than 'encouragement' from the HR/Legal people who advise them?


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23rd Nov 2011 11:59

What an interesting read and thought provoking too, by HR I assume as well you include some of the Journals we see.

Poor performance is certainly on our adgenda, or rather how can we improve that performance. There are lots that can be done

Remind Board members / senior managers of the importance of managing performance, setting clear objectives and communicating regularly. - Its a message I have been working on our board with for the last 3 years and continue to talk about it. Even despite that with only one of me there is still alot of work to do encouraging and supporting the business in dealing with poor performance.

Looking at the performance management structure - does it work if not replace it. Personally I beleive and have pushed simple systems that encourage the employee to talk about what is important to them and focus on their objectives -

Training, training, training. For the last 3 years I have been running performance management courses in our company. The first message though is about the need to communicate with employees.

Its about giving tools to managers they can use. Here we introduced ACT FAIR - a nice simple formalised coaching process. It stands for

Agree - what the problem is. A meeting is held with the employee, which while not part of the disciplinary process we allow them to have someone with. The idea is to discuss the problem with specific examples and to agree how and when performance is going to be improved.

Commit to improvement - The meeting is followed up with a letter, which the employee has to sign and return one copy to signal their committment to meet the identified improvement.

Test - by talking with the employee on an ongoing basis, watching what goes on and

Follow Up and Inform of Results. In my experience over 90% of those who go into ACT FAIR improve. Its not a disciplinary so does not engender all the negativity that can go with that process.  Managers feel more comfortable with it so can agree improvements (which of course is also the real purpose of disciplinaries). For the small minority who either don't agree there is a problem, won't committ or don't follow through on what they have said it makes the disciplinary or capability proceedure much easier as the manager has done most of the groundwork.

I agree that we need to push even more on performance management and help line managers to recognise good performace comes from 2 way communications with their employees, agreeing SMART objectives that help the employee to self appraise and getting in early when performance drops.

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