Guidelines for Administration of the Performance Capability Policy for Academic Staff


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1. Roles and responsibilities

2. Making the decision on which policy to use

3. Reasons for poor performance

4. The performance plan

5. The review meeting

6. Timescales

7. Help and advice



1. Roles and Responsibilities

Managers should ensure that:

a) Recruitment, selection, induction, training and management of staff is undertaken appropriately, thus minimising the risk of poor performance;

b) Staff transferred /promoted/redeployed from other schools/departments are appropriately inducted and trained;

c) The individual is advised as soon as performance falls below expected standards;

d) Under-performance is investigated without delay to identify the cause and support the individual in working towards a solution;

e) These procedures are followed for any performance issues in their team and that cases are dealt with in a prompt and timely way;

f) Advice is sought from HR before invoking the procedure and as necessary thereafter;

g) They help the individual to understand the standards required, the reasons for any action and the implications of not achieving an improved level of performance;

h) Action taken in respect of an individual's work performance is done sensitively and consistently, maintaining confidentiality, dignity and equality of opportunity.

Individual employees should ensure that:

a) They seek to maximise their performance/contribution at the appointed level of post within the university;

b) They are open and honest in discussions with their manager regarding performance;

c) They immediately seek clarification on any aspects of required standards which are not clear to them in order that these standards can be clearly understood, agreed and worked to;

d) They advise their manager of any issue whatsoever that is affecting their performance, including personal, health or disability issues;

e) They understand that if their work performance falls below that which is deemed to be acceptable, their manager will be obliged to address this;

f) They comply with any training, development or other measures identified which will enable them to reach the required level of performance.


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2. Making the Decision on Which Policy to Use

Managers should be aware of the contents of each of the policies most likely to be used in cases of poor performance, and should familiarise themselves with the detail as appropriate.

The relevant policies are:

• The Disciplinary Procedure;
• The Procedure for Handling Incapability on Grounds of Health;
• The Disability Policy and Code of Practice;
• The Alcohol and Substance Misuse Policy;
• The Performance Capability Procedure.

It is important that the manager is careful not to prejudge the issue before discussing the situation with the employee. Advice and guidance on making the decision as to which policy/policies to use in each situation may be obtained from HR.


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3. Reasons for Poor Performance

The reasons for poor performance should be explored fully to determine the most appropriate solution. Concerns about an individual's performance may arise from a number of factors including, but not limited to:

• Lack of aptitude, skill or experience, which may be the result of inappropriate recruitment, selection, induction or training;
• Lack of proficiency and poor overall organisation;
• Lack of facilities crucial to the individual's performance;
• Changes in the nature and allocation of work, including heavy workload;
• Changes in technology;
• Personal/family difficulties;
• Short-term health problems;
• Re-organisation or redefinition of role;
• Poor attendance at work, related to genuine ill-health;
• Lack of motivation to perform role;
• A combination of any of the above.


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4. The Performance Plan

This is produced by the manager and discussed with the employee. It should clearly identify the required standards and/or targets, and the steps required to overcome the current shortfall in performance. Mention of the cause or causes of the current shortfall may be included if appropriate. It should set a reasonable period for the employee to reach the required standard and provide details of the monitoring system to be followed during that period. A suggested template for a Performance Plan is attached as Appendix 2. pdf(78 kb)

It would be appropriate during the discussion about the performance plan to aim to obtain the employee's commitment to reaching the required standard, and to ensure that the targets which are set are realistic and attainable.

The employee should also be informed during this discussion of what will happen if the required standard is not met.


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5. The Review Meeting

The line manager should ensure that the employee is made aware in writing when and where the review meeting will take place and the employee should be given at least five working days notice. It is the responsibility of the employee to ensure that their chosen friend or colleague is informed of the date and place of the review meeting, is able to attend and is supplied with a copy of any relevant papers.


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6. Timescales

The Policy aims to ensure that capability issues are dealt with promptly, efficiently and in accordance with best practice. Timescales and time limits can assist with this, and also manage expectations. However, there may be reasons why the timescales cannot be complied with and in such cases it may be necessary to modify them. Where the timescales are adjusted, the reasons for this will be documented.


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7. Help and Advice

In order to assist the employee to improve their performance, the line manager should advise the employee where support and further information might be obtained. These avenues are likely to include: close peers/colleagues; Human Resources; the employee’s Trade Union.

General advice and counselling may be obtained from the free Employee Support Network, which is currently the College & University Support Network. Telephone advice may be obtained by ringing 0800 032 9952. The website address can be accessed by clicking here.

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