Human Resources

5.0 Informal Performance Management

Informal performance management will often be a more effective way of dealing with unsatisfactory performance than the enactment of formal processes.  Informal performance management allows time for the provision of additional training, coaching and advice to aid improvement in performance. 

However, the employee should also be made aware that formal processes will be used if performance does not improve to the required standard or if any improvement is not maintained.

5.1 Informal Performance Management Meetings

Where a line manager considers that an employee’s performance is below the satisfactory standard expected they should arrange a meeting with the employee to identify the cause(s) and determine the support to be provided to improve the standard of work.  This should be a two-way discussion, aimed at highlighting and exploring the perceived shortcomings in performance and encouraging improvement to the expected standards.  This discussion should be based on the employee’s job description and person specification.  Any objectives and/or work plans agreed as part of ongoing Progress and Development Reviews may also be used to support the discussion.

Feedback should be constructive, with the emphasis on finding ways for the employee to improve and for the improvement to be sustained.  This may entail the agreement of additional support, guidance and/or training plans.

The line manager should listen to what the employee has to say about the issue.  The discussion may highlight evidence that there are underlying causes such as personal problems or issues wider than the matter at hand that need to be resolved independently.  Should the meeting establish that the performance problems are related to the employee’s personal or domestic life, the necessary counselling/support will be offered.  Should the discussion during the meeting result in a decision that the standards expected are not reasonably attainable, the standards will be reviewed. 

If it becomes apparent that the matter may be more serious and/or significant new information comes to light, the meeting should be adjourned for further investigation.  If it is decided that the performance issue emanates from a change in the College’s standards or working methods, those standards or working methods will be explained to the employee.  Any necessary supervision, training or retraining will be offered to obtain conformity with the standards or to achieve the required skill level.

Where improvement is required, the manager should make sure the employee understands and is committed to reaching the required standard, how performance will be reviewed, and over what period.  The content, agreed action and the outcome of the meeting will be recorded in writing to the employee concerned.

5.2 Timescales for Improvement

The length of the review period will depend on the gap in performance identified.  It is recommended that improvement via informal performance management should be planned over a minimum period of 6 weeks.  An appropriate timescale will be agreed with the employee to allow sufficient time to improve in the areas indicated taking into account any additional training or coaching needed and allowing time for the skills/knowledge acquired to be applied to work. 

5.3 End of Informal Review Period

At the end of the informal review period a further meeting will be held between the manager and the employee.  The outcome of this meeting will be one of the following:

  • if the required improvement has been made, the employee will be told of this and encouraged to maintain this improvement; or
  • if some improvement has been made but the standard has not yet been met, the informal review period may be extended; or
  • if there has been little or no improvement in performance, the issues will be progressed using the formal performance management stages.

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The HR team is based on the first floor of Egmont House
Postal address: Human Resources, Birkbeck, University of London, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HX