A Guide
for Employers

Navigating the performance management process

For Employers, Human Resources

Performance management is much more than a means of ultimately dismissing an employee.

In this guide, we want to share some top tips for navigating this important yet often misunderstood process.

The first thing to consider is the type of allegations you are looking at. The performance management process (sometimes called a “capability procedure”) should be used to deal with any performance issues, where your employee “can’t do” and needs additional training or support to meet the expected levels of performance in their role. If you are dealing with “won’t do” issues then this should be handled under your disciplinary process.

The purpose of the performance management process is to provide an opportunity for an employee to improve on their performance. The onus is not just on the employee when carrying out performance management, but also on the employer to provide the support and/or training to help them meet the objectives.

Some performance issues can be dealt with and resolved informally, without the need to instigate a formal process, and this should always be the first step where an employee is struggling with the demands of their role.

Formal process

Where more formal performance management is required, this involves sanctions similar to a disciplinary process; first written warning (or “formal improvement notice”), then a final written warning and should the poor performance continue, it would result in dismissal.

To commence a formal procedure, the employee’s manager should hold an investigation meeting with them to get their version of events and/or reasons for their poor performance before then inviting them to a formal performance review hearing.


Following a formal performance review hearing, a sanction can be issued (as set out above) which in the case of a warning would set out clear performance objectives that the employee is expected to meet during the review period, which is usually one month but this will depend on the circumstances.

Regular meetings should be held with the employee during any review period, to check in on how they are doing and to establish what support the employer can offer to help them achieve their objectives.


At the end of any review period, a further meeting should be held to discuss their progress. If the employee has failed to meet the set objectives, then this would trigger the next stage of the process.

At any stage where a formal outcome is given, the employee has the right to appeal, and such appeal must be heard by someone independent who has not been involved in the process previously.

A performance management process requires perseverance as it can often take between three to six months from start to potential dismissal if there is no satisfactory improvement.

A final point on performance management

There is no guarantee that you would achieve a dismissal as the whole purpose of the process is for the employee to improve, with the employer’s support and assistance. If the employee does improve and meets their set objectives at any stage of the process, then the process stops.

The above is a guide to help you navigate the performance management process, but please reach out to the Outsourced HR and Employment Law Support team here at Thrive via enquiries@thrivelaw.co.uk for more tailored support.

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Please note this blog is for reference purposes only and is only accurate at which the date it was published. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific Legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking or deciding not to take any actions. Please contact us if you have any questions on enquiries@thrivelaw.co.uk.

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