Threatened with a Performance Improvement Plan at Work?
A gentleman came to see me a few weeks ago. He explained his employer had offered him a Settlement Agreement with a compensation package if he would agree to resign his employment.
If he didn’t sign the Settlement Agreement and agree to terminate his employment, then he would be subjected to his employer’s Performance Improvement Plan.
We discussed the performance issues his employer had raised and whether the procedure was something he needed to be worried about. He explained he had been working for the company for over 20 years. His work had never been criticised and, in fact, in any objective assessment of his performance he was meeting all targets. He explained the current situation had arisen following a new director joining the company. The new director had already pushed out a number of staff and replaced them with colleagues he had worked with before. My client believed he was the latest in a long line.
In the circumstances, I explained to my client that he had nothing to fear from a Performance Improvement Plan and, in fact, his manager would be very unwise to start such a process. He stated he had been offered a job elsewhere and didn’t want to remain with his current employer. My instructions were to renegotiate his Settlement Agreement and get him as large an increase as possible in his financial compensation. He was delighted when we finally agreed an amount which was more than double his employer’s original offer.
I was pleased to have helped but surprised by how frightened my client had been about the threatened Performance Improvement Plan. It occurred to me that others may be in a similar situation and I set out below some general rules which would help anyone subjected to a Performance Management Process:-
If you are invited to a performance management meeting get a copy of your job description, any procedure your employer is using, any appraisals or supervision notes, any positive feedback from colleagues or customers, in fact anything you can use to dispute your employer’s criticisms. If you have any concerns about the person reviewing your performance, raise them straightaway.
Make Your Employer Be Specific
Employers like to be vague when they suggest you are not performing. However, if you are genuinely failing to meet the requirements of your job description, they should be able to tell you how and why. Ask for specific examples, ask what you should have done and make sure you know what (if any) improvement is needed. Keep referring back to your job description and make sure what you are being criticised for is actually part of your job.
Performance Review Period
Once your employer has explained the problems, they should give you the opportunity to improve. Make sure you know exactly what is expected. If you don’t consider their targets or expectations to be reasonable, you should say so and suggest your own objectives going forward. You should ensure that any concerns you have about future targets are recorded in the minutes of your meetings. Also, ask for any additional training or assistance you might need.
Prepare Yourself Again!
Make sure you go to your Performance Review Meeting fully prepared. Gather your evidence of the work you have done since your first meeting. If you were not given the training you asked for, take along the evidence of your requests. If you haven’t been able to meet targets, explain why and make sure you take your evidence.
Let us help
For most employees, these procedures will come to an end after the first review meeting. However, for others, the process might be used by their employers to try and pressure them into resigning, accepting a Settlement Agreement or fast track them towards a dismissal. Depending upon the criticisms, it might even be discriminatory (for example, criticising the performance of a disabled member of staff without considering reasonable adjustments).
If you are facing a Performance Management Process, please ring for a free, no obligation, telephone consultation on 01522 539501. Alternatively, for more information about who we are at LincsLaw Solicitors and what we do, please visit our website at lincslaw.co.uk.