Expert Corner

How to Deal With Performance issues

During this video, Louise McGeady, Founder & Principal Consultant, Opal People Solutions, defines what we mean by Performance Management, the types of reviews which should be completed, including probation reviews, annual reviews and real time reviews. Louise McGeady, Founder & Principal Consultant, Opal People Solutions, says “The term Performance Management probably has quite negative connotations. Performance Management is as much about rewarding and recognising positive contribution as it is about trying to correct underperformance.”

Performance Management is an on-going process throughout an individual’s employment experience. During the probation period, it is so important that reviews are carried out at regular intervals e.g. after 1 month, 3 months and 5 months so there should be no surprises if employment is terminated at the end of the probation period.

Traditional annual reviews are still popular in many organisations, however, there can be a tendency to view the one off yearly review as a tick box exercise. Real time reviews, carried out on a regular basis and taking a more informal approach, can be much more effective. If there are some areas of performance which need to be improved, it is much better to address them at an early stage, rather than waiting for the annual review in 9 months time!

Many managers are uncomfortable having difficult conversations. Louise advises how to approach this type of conversation so that the overall outcome is still a positive experience. There are a number of formats managers can use to structure the review and record the points discussed.



Increasingly, we are seeing a move away from the traditional paper based reviews to those supported by HR software e.g. HR Locker (, with automated built in reminders so there are no excuses for not completing! What happens if performance doesn’t improve and the employer needs to address this through the disciplinary process?

Louise emphasises the need for natural justice and stresses the importance of giving the employee the opportunity to improve before embarking on a formal disciplinary process. Performance Improvement Plans are a great tool to structure the conversation, taking broad areas and breaking down into the component parts. This is a 2 way supportive conversation, as Louise says “it is as much for the employer to understand how they can support you to get to a particular level of performance as much as there is an onus on you to improve.”

This approach is highly effective, however, if the employer does need to take disciplinary action, including dismissal, they are in a much stronger position to defend any potential litigation arising. 

For more information:

Jennifer McWilliams
Written By
Louise McGeady
Opal People Solutions

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