Three performance management mistakes that could cost your business

If you have an individual or a team who isn’t pulling their weight, it can have a ripple effect across your business. There’s resentment from those who are delivering on their responsibilities; low morale from teammates; and managers feeling under pressure to get the right results.

A lot of the time, poor performance can be addressed quickly with little fuss. It can be something as simple as re-educating or upskilling the individual so that they can perform at the level required.

That said, managing poor performance is an area that we as HR consultants regularly get involved with. Our monthly retainers give employers access to our team and their skills and experience so that we can assist with addressing the performance issue.

In this blog we highlight three common mistakes that can be made by employers when they have poor performers in their business.

1. Ignoring the poor performance

If you know there is a problem in the business, ignoring it won’t resolve it. If a person is under-performing and has been allowed to do so for some time, this could start to create a culture of poor performance throughout the organisation – it is highly infectious!

We understand that poor performance can be a difficult subject to broach, especially if you have a small team, but learning how to have effective conversations about performance is essential to building a successful business.

As soon as problems are identified, make the time to investigate them and have a performance review meeting with the person as soon as you can. Having a formal process that you follow each time will ensure you have a clear path to follow (and less likely to hesitate on that first conversation) and that you treat all employees the same way.

2. Setting targets that are vague and subjective

There is nothing more deflating to an under-performing employee than having targets set which are clearly unachievable, or worse, vague and left wide open to mis-interpretation. If both sides want to see an improvement in performance, then everyone needs to understand exactly what ‘good performance’ will look like and deliver.

If the individual is under a performance review, they need to be clear on what they need to achieve in order to be seen as improved, or at the right standard of performance. Using the SMART acronym to set goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-based) is a great tool to use to avoid creating vague goals. We cover how to use SMART goals in our 'Effective Appraisals' course running in December.

You may also want to consider what type of ‘scoring system’ you use to avoid a subjective interpretation of performance. For example, scoring on a scale of 1-5 can easily suffer from a lack of consistency when being applied by more than one manager. If you can be more descriptive about the type of performance a person at each level us giving, then a scoring system will become more effective.

3. No follow up

It’s a significant waste of your time if you identify a performance problem, go through the effort of investing in the staff member to get them back on track, and then not evaluating if performance improved.

It sends mixed signals to your employees as a whole and that under-performing individual may be left demotivated if they feel they haven’t had the opportunity to prove their value back to you.

It may be that performance has improved, you can see it in the employees output and you feel a follow up meeting would be unnecessary. You might even be tempted to push back the follow up meeting to deal with something else, and then you never get around to rescheduling the meeting.

In the long-term this could be more damaging to your relationship with the employee. They could be left feeling that when they do work well, they aren’t on your radar.

Make sure you have a clearly defined process for reviewing performance and you’ll avoid missing this key step. A good team leader will give recognition to an individual or team for improved performance; there is nothing so motivational as a public statement of praise and the irony is that it costs nothing.

Our HR software partner breatheHR have written a great blog about employee recognition and how giving kudos is so important (and so easy with breatheHR!)

These are just three areas that if you get right, can help you manage poor performance in your organisation. Review processes don’t have to be huge, but having a process that all managers in the organisation follow will make sure poor performance is managed in a consistent manner.

Some business owners find that outsourcing this area of HR saves them time and ensures a consistent approach is applied. It’s part of our monthly retainer service which starts from a very cost-effective just £125 +VAT per month. Find all the benefits of our monthly retainer services here.

If the points in this blog raise concern, we also have a training course focused on Managing Performance coming up on Thursday 12 September. Full details of the course content and how to book are here.

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