Performance Management Processes

Caragh Bailey
8 min read
Performance Management from Employment Law Friend

What is performance management in the workplace?

A performance management system is the combination of methods that your employer uses to monitor and improve your performance. This is usually team or company wide and shouldn't target you individually. If you are on a performance improvement program (PIP) for your individual performance, click here to read about PIP.

Performance management processes do not necessarily have to be focused on production or sales. Many performance management processes are designed toward developing you as an employee or improving your job satisfaction.

Your employer's performance expectations should be clear from the beginning. They will be set out in your job description, recruitment process, employee induction and training. From here, regular informal check ins and formal performance appraisals should refer back to your understood expectations and responsibilities and develop on them as necessary, as you and the company move forward.

Try to see any performance appraisal, not as your employer breathing down your neck or micro-managing, but as an opportunity for you to grow and to progress in your career.

What is performance management process?

    Your employer will decide on their goals
Your employer will decide whether to focus their performance management processes toward:
  • Sales or production targets
  • Employee motivation
  • Employee development
  • Employee recognition & reward
  • Identifying and improving weaknesses in the team

Your employer might select a combination of these, or choose different focuses for different teams or areas of the business. However they direct the performance appraisal goals, they must make sure the criteria for success are fair and without discrimination.

    You will be set performance measurements.
There are many different success factors that your employer might use to measure your performance. They should be specific to your company and your role. Read some typical performance appraisal examples in the box below:

What are examples of performance management?

Sales or production
  • Your store must aim for £20 000 in takings in December.
  • All sales employees are challenged to increase their personal sales or production by an average of 5% over the next 6 weeks to improve company performance after a lull or loss.
  • Each month an employee is selected for going 'above and beyond' expectations, often in areas of customer service or team work. Their achievements/behaviours are recognised and celebrated in a company newsletter or mailshot.
  • Employees who consistently meet their targets will get an extra day of paid holiday for that quarter.
  • Employees who are complacent or disengaged may be offered training opportunities. You are expected to attend online training for 1 hour each work week and do any additional studying or revision in your own time. You will be tested in 6 months and receive a certificate if you pass, which will further your career prospects.
  • Employees who are engaged but struggling may be assigned a 'buddy' with more experience who they are partnered up with on an upcoming project.
  • In regular team meetings your manager praises a different employee who has excelled in that period.
  • The employee who shows the greatest percentage increase on their usual targets for the month will get a gift card of £50
Identifying weaknesses
  • A minimum weekly target is set, employees who do not meet their targets over any three week period may be placed on a performance improvement plan.
  • A sign-in procedure is implemented. Employees who are more than a total of 30 mins late over a two week period may be subject to deductions from their wages equivalent to the time that they are absent, until their punctuality improves.

If you do not agree with the targets set or believe the consequences to be unfair, it is important not to sign anything agreeing to it. If you sign a performance management agreement that conflicts with, or adds to, the terms of your contract, then you have consented to a change in the terms of your employment. This can be disputed if the performance management agreement breaches your statutory rights, or you have been coerced into signing it.

    Performance appraisal meetings
You and the rest of your colleagues each have a personal appraisal meeting with your line manager, where you discuss your performance against your agreed targets.

This is an opportunity to explain any shortfall and to discuss ways that you might be better supported to meet your targets.
For example: You work in sales, your shift pattern has placed you in store on days or at times which typically have lower foot traffic or lower average spend. You ask to have a fairer distribution of hours, or for your personal target to be adjusted to reflect a reasonable goal, relative to the limits of the situation.

You should also use this meeting to discuss your personal career goals and talk with your manager to steer your next targets towards them.

    Your manager will assess and keep a record of your performance.
If this is a good record, it will help you when it comes to promotion and training opportunities. If you apply for a job elsewhere, this will provide great evidence for your employer to give as a reference.

If this is a bad record, it will probably restrict your job opportunities and may give your employer cause to open a disciplinaryinvestigation or performance improvement program.

What does performance improvement mean?

Performance improvement is a form of disciplinary action which is taken because your work is not good enough. This might be consistently failing to reach targets, making mistakes or missing deadlines. If you accept the reason your employer gives for placing you on a performance improvement plan, you should use this opportunity to try and correct your behaviour. Ask for support if you need it.

If you believe the reason your employer has given to be false, or for any of the process to be mishandled, you can appeal. Contact us to speak to one of our specialist employment solicitors.

What should your performance improvement plan cover?

  • It should clearly and objectively set out where you are failing;
  • give measurable objectives for you to improve;
  • tell you what support or training will be available;
  • have timescales for reviews; and
  • have clear consequences of what will happen if you fail.

Don't sign your performance improvement plan if you disagree with the allegations of poor performance, or if the process is unfair.
If you sign it this will seem that you have consented to the terms and will make it difficult to dispute later.

You should tell your employer what you disagree with and why. You should also consider raising a grievance.

Signs your PIP might be unfair:
  • You have a long period of service without prior issues with your performance
  • You have a difficult relationship with your line manager
  • An unrealistic set of targets suggest you are being set up to fail
  • Your performance is similar to your peers, who have not been put on a PIP
  • The company is struggling financially and/or redundancies are being made

Can you avoid a performance improvement plan?


The minimum process for performance improvement required under the ACAS code:

  • A fair investigation into your poor performance.
  • If the investigation confirms your poor performance, they must tell you in writing when the disciplinary meeting will be held and what your performance problem is. (Click here for what to expect in a disciplinary procedure).
  • If disciplinary action is justified, they will choose an outcome, which may include a performance improvement plan. You should be given support, warnings, and a reasonable timescale to improve.
  • You have the right to appeal.

What are top 3 ways to improve on performance at work?

    Set your own goals. - Make sure they are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant & Time bound. Hold yourself accountable.
    Plan and prioritise your tasks - Keep on top of your deadlines & manage your times.
    Stop multitasking - Allocate time for each task or project and focus on one at a time.

Frequently Asked Questions
As an employer, you should:
  • Identify clear aims
  • Plan the performance management around the needs of the business
  • Be transparent
  • Be consistent
  • Be fair
  • Engage and consult with staff and representatives
  • Get managers and supervisors on board for a united effort
Performance management is considered good practise and can help protect employers from legal disputes, so most organisations will use a regular performance appraisals. It is a legal requirement to carry out performance management for teachers.
Performance management is not a disciplinary. However, you may be put on a performance improvement program as an outcome of a disciplinary, when your performance has been identified as unnacceptable.
    Employer sets your performance targets
    Meeting held to discuss your performance
    Employer assesses and keeps a record of your performance

This process should be repeated annually

Do you have a problem with your employer?
There is much more to winning your case than simply being in the right, our specialist employment solicitors know all the laws and tactics, to make sure you get the best chance at a fair settlement. Get in contact with us and see how we can help.

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This content is provided free of charge for information purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. No responsibility for the accuracy and/or correctness of the information and commentary set out in the article, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed or accepted by any member of our company. For employment law advice please get in contact and speak to your employment law solicitors.
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