Dealing with poor performers

This is an area where employers often feel that there is little they can do. However employers do not need to accept poor performance.

The first step is to decide whether the shortcomings are due to conduct e.g. unreliability, unsatisfactory attitude, negligence or job capability i.e. lack of ability to carry out the job to the required standards.

If the reason is due to conduct the disciplinary procedure should be used as the means of correcting shortcomings.

Where it is believed that the poor performance is due to capability, then a procedure equivalent to the disciplinary procedure should be used. This involves discussion with the individual, the setting of performance targets, agreement of reasonable support or training, review process and what will happen if performance does not improve. As with the disciplinary process, following a series of warnings the employee may ultimately be dismissed due to failure to improve performance.

The disciplinary and capability procedures should not be mixed together, so it is perfectly possible for an employee to have say a written warning under the disciplinary procedure at the same time as having a verbal warning under the capability procedure.

When considering poor performance it is important to find out whether there may be medical factors contributing to poor performance. This helps to manage risk under disability discrimination legislation.


Without professional support employers often spend a lot of management time and still fail to achieve a successful outcome.

E-mail david@cedargbltd.co.uk to discuss how David can help you with his substantial knowledge and experience.

Case Study

Advising a manufacturer on dismissal due to job incapability

The individual had two aspects to his job but due to operational reasons had mainly focussed on just one. With a downturn in demand and...

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