Managers often worry about tackling poor performance, which in itself can lead to problems getting out of hand. A simple, robust, employee improvement plan could make both of your lives much easier.

Every employer has encountered at least one poor performer be it appalling punctuality, poor attendance rate or simply because the individual is just bad at their job. If the problem is left to fester for any length of time, it can cause resentment among other staff, who have to pick up the slack. It may also lead to poor performance multiplying across your organisation, because others perceive that it is tolerated. Quite often, however, the issue is not tackled because the manager does not know what to do.

This is where an ’employee improvement plan’ (EIP), which is sometimes referred to in HR circles as a performance improvement plan, can come to the rescue. It allows you to create a clear framework that will hopefully enable the employee to improve to your required standards. While this may sound scary and formal, it is not meant to be; an EIP is an informal process that gives a member of your staff the full opportunity to improve before any formal disciplinary and/or capability procedures are triggered.

This approach fits in nicely with the ACAS Code of Practice on Discipline and Grievance Procedures, which emphasises the need to resolve workplace issues informally wherever possible.

However, there is an added bonus to implementing an EIP. If the employee ultimately fails to come up to scratch, you will have solid evidence that shows exactly what you did to manage the problem and help them solve it.

What does an EIP do?

It is a multi-stage process that allows you to:

1. Identify the areas where an employee is under-performing

2. Set defined goals

3. Outline how you expect the required improvements to be made by the employee

4. Specify what support (if any) will be provided to the employee for example, additional training;

5. Measure future performance and success

6. Schedule reviews

7. Agree a time-frame for improvements.

Creating the plan

Before you initiate an EIP, you must be able to identify exactly why your employee is not meeting your expectations fully for example, poor timekeeping, missed deadlines, customer complaints or problems with technical competence. Once you have done this, identify what you consider to be acceptable performance standards. You will also need to decide how it will be measured once the plan is triggered, as you cannot assess improvements without a yardstick to quantify them by. Only meet with the employee to set an EIP when you have this information.

If it is clear that an employee will need support, training and/or coaching in order to improve their performance, this must always be provided, otherwise they will be in a strong position to challenge the fairness of any formal proceedings that you initiate later on.

Members can obtain an employee improvement plan template by calling the NAMB on 01920 468061.