How to deal with a poor performer in 50 tweets…Part 3

This blog (originally published in March 2013) is being re-posted following our WordPress account being hacked, resulting in the loss of all our blogs prior to June 2017.

In Part 1 of this series of tweets I looked at 10 tips for encouraging good performance without having to resort to formal procedures.

Part 2 explored ‘Stage 1’ of a procedure that might be used when someone fails to respond to the motivating behaviours of their manager, and they need to understand that the continuing level of performance is not going to be tolerated indefinitely.

In this final part of this series I will look at how to continue with a procedure that, as far as it is possible, will ensure that if it comes to it, any dismissal will be fair.

You may have got this far without any specialist HR assistance, but if this is the first time you have used such an approach, you would be well advised to seek some HR or legal advice for the first time you do this.

When dealing with poor performance under a disciplinary or capability procedure, or just by following the steps in these tweets, it’s important to focus on improving the performance.

Giving somebody a warning should not be designed to encourage them to leave, it should be designed to encourage an improvement in the performance. If that’s achievable, it’s a much more cost effective solution than somebody leaving.

So, on with our last 20 tweets, and what would normally be described as Stage 2 of the procedure!

Tweet 31/50: Start again at tweet 16 – as modified below!

Meet with them and let them know that since the previous warning has not resulted in the required performance improvement, you will now have to move onto the next stage.

    Let them know that you want to discuss the situation at a meeting that may lead to a further warning. You will confirm the details in writing

Keep your eye on the ball here. Your goal should still be to get the performance improvement you are after. We will call this ‘Meeting 2’

Confirm ‘Meeting 2’ in writing and make it clear what your concerns are about. As well as this, deal with domestic details (time, place, who will be present etc.) and you should include any documentary evidence to which you will refer and advise them of their right to be accompanied. There are lots of useful templates for letters to deal with this type of process at

Avoid unnecessary delay before meetings, but do give enough time to prepare. Usually, unless the issues are very complex, a couple of days may be adequate time for preparation, particularly when there have been extensive informal discussions. Your procedures may require a specific notice period for a meeting – typically 5 or 7 days.

If they ask for someone to speak in support of them (a witness), you will have to give the matter some consideration. You can ask them to get their witness to write a statement, rather than attend a meeting, but, in any case, employees rarely do this for performance issues. It is more common when you are dealing with poor conduct.

‘Meeting 2’, explain the issue (the performance shortfall and its impact), outline the evidence, hear what they have to say, and thoroughly discuss, before making your decision. You should be concentrating on the performance of the individual since ‘Meeting 1’, try not to dwell on stuff from further back!

If they have brought a companion with them, check if they have anything they want to say. They have a statutory right to ‘address the hearing’.

It is normally recommended that you have an adjournment before making a decision.

Assuming you decide to proceed with another warning, reconvene if you have adjourned and, deliver a warning (you can call it a second warning if that is what your procedure calls it).

Explain how you have arrived at your decision, demonstrating that you have heard any points that they have expressed.

Clearly confirm the performance issues, the standards you are looking for, the review period, additional support that might be available, and the consequences of the improvement not happening. Remember that if there is insufficient improvement this time, this may lead to the termination of their employment, and they need to be told this.

Tell them everything will be confirmed in writing and advise them of any right to appeal.

As last time, try to end on a positive next step. ‘I’m going to arrange for somebody in the Finance Team to sit down with you and see if there is a better way of organising the way you are keeping your records’.

Confirm everything in writing!

Make sure there is regular support during any review period – it will help ensure that the employee takes your concerns seriously.

You will have just completed ‘Stage 2’, what in many organisations will be called a ‘second written warning’.

So now things are getting serious, and the process so far may have taken you a month or two.

Tweet 32/50: Surprise, surprise, its back to Tweet 31/50 above, but this time around things will be a little different.

Adapt the bullet points above to reflect the fact that a possible outcome of this ‘Stage 3’ is that the employee could lose their job. You will need to review the situation thoroughly, and this time round you definitely will need to adjourn before you make your decision.

Tweet #33/50: Assuming you decide to dismiss (another option could be to extend their review period) tell them they will be dismissed and do it face to face. This will usually be with immediate effect with their pay in lieu of notice (check on the contractual and tax implications of this), outstanding holiday pay and compensation for any other benefits (Company car etc.) they are losing. Everything will be confirmed in writing and advise them of any right to appeal.

Tweet #34/50: Depending on the individual’s contract, you may decide to ask them to work out their notice (very unusual for poor performance situations) or put them on ‘garden leave’ in order to preserve any restrictive covenants – take some advice!

Tweet #35/50: Confirm everything in writing!

So, there we have it. How to deal with a poor performer in less than 50 tweets. So where have the rest gone?

They’re in Part 4, which covers how to arrive at an alternative solution that does not involve the need to follow this process which can often take two or three months, and be difficult for both the employee and the manager.

Tweet 36/50: Read on, the rest is available now!

Ken Allison | 27 September 2017 | Paradigm Partners |

Ken Allison is an engaging trainer and speaker who manages to make his topics, on handling employment law related people issues and other HR stuff, highly interactive, challenging, entertaining, and above all, relevant to the 21st Century executive. Ken uses his understanding of managing businesses to show managers what they ‘can do’ rather than what they ‘cannot do’.

Through his firm’s ‘ExecutiveHR’ service, Ken also provides telephone based support services to businesses throughout the UK.

This blog is not a substitute for taking legal advice!


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