April Blog: Performance Management - The First Three Months

Posted Monday 3rd April 2017 under WBL Sector Info

Where are we in the recruitment process?

We are now on our 7th blog. The blogs so far have covered:

  • Planning to Recruit
  • Creating a Person Specification
  • Inviting candidates for interview
  • Preparing for an interview
  • Conducting a professional interview using a formal interview structure and person specification.
  • Post interview feedback
  • Making & Handling Offers of Employment
  • Onboarding

By this time the candidate has joined your company and has received a sound onboarding, which has increased their engagement into your company by creating a positive first impression of your company.

The next step of the process is to ensure that the candidate meets the pre set criteria for the job. This is known as performance management.

Performance Management

Definition: a shared understanding about how individuals contribute to an organisation’s goals. A fundamental aim is to improve an employee’s effectiveness.

In my experience, one of the reasons why new employees don’t live up to their new employer’s expectations is because they don’t know EXACTLY what the new employer’s expectations are!

Often performance management comes into force when the employer finds out that the new employee isn’t living up to their expectations so they tackle them about their shortfalls. If the new employer thinks they are doing an OK job, then they are likely to be demoralised by it. Performance management should begin before the candidate joins the company so they know upfront what is expected of them and how they will be managed.

Interview Stage – Setting Objectives

Prior to the interview some thought needs to be put into what you expect from the candidate in terms of :

Timekeeping and attendance
Dress code
KPI’s or activity levels
Reporting procedure
What good looks like in your company
How someone behaves that demonstrates your company values.

These are often the things that the employer is unhappy with a new employee. On many instances over the years when asking why companies have had to replace a member of their staff shortly after the new employee joined, they will state one of the reasons above as to why the employee didn’t work out. When asked at what point they tell the new employee what is expected of them, they frequently tell me that the employee should know what is expected of them.

Therefore, if you talk the prospective employee, at interview stage, through what your expectations are, you are making it clear to them what is and what is not acceptable behaviour, and they will be under no illusions before they join the company. Once these have been gone through the prospective employee needs to be asked if they are happy with each point or if any of the points causes them a problem.

The Employee’s First Few Days

Within the first couple of days of joining the company the manager needs to go through this again with the new employee. This is to remind the employee again what is expected of them and what is deemed acceptable behaviour. Several of the areas we at GPRS find, is there can often be confusion about what is acceptable; such as the use of personal mobile phones during office time, internet usage and dress code. Our policies on these and many other factors are talked through on the first day and put in writing when the new employee joins.

Ideally, this should be in a document form, such as a Job Description. The person who the inductee is going to be reporting to should go through this with them. It should be gone though duty by duty, emphasising exactly what is expected of them and what 'good' looks like to your company. There should be no room for misunderstanding. The inductee needs to be asked if they understand what is required of them.

Remember, today’s candidate is assessing the company throughout the recruitment process so this upfront approach will demonstrate that your company as efficient with high standards. If a candidate isn’t keen on what your expectations are, then they probably aren’t the right person for you. If the inductee isn’t going to be doing the whole role initially, then they need to know EXACTLY what they should be doing, this needs to be put in writing via email as confirmation. 

The new employee can then be checked against this criteria. I check GPRS’s inductees against their objectives weekly for the first month and then monthly as part of their appraisals. This allows you quickly to identify any performance or training needs. Research shows that within 24 hours of being told something we often forget 75%. Ongoing evaluation ensures that bits of information that have been forgotten are highlighted and steps can be taken to make them habitual.

If you wait until the inductee has been with your company a while before evaluating their performance you risk then finding things that need to be put right, or a candidate that isn’t performing for months and has been allowed to continue which puts your reputation in jeopardy. Do not assume because someone has done the job before it will be to the standard you require. Double check for peace of mind.

Also, wait too long and then find that the candidate isn’t right for you company means you may have paid their salary for several months, when in reality if you’d have managed their performance sooner and more efficiently, you would have identified problems and would have been able to deal with them. This may mean providing additional training, or going down the disciplinary route if you are not happy with progress.

Under Performance

If an inductee isn’t performing to the standard you require then you need to talk to them about it. If it is a training issue, then training needs to be provided. If the inductee continues to underperform then it needs to be nipped in the bud.

GPRS have a checklist that we work through which is based on the new employee’s tasks they need to perform and to what standard. Some of the criteria included are:

Timekeeping and attendance
Dress code
KPI’s or activity levels
The standards we expect
Operational procedures
How someone behaves that demonstrates your company values.

Weekly evaluations are taken so any areas I am not happy with are dealt with quickly and appropriately.

New employees are praised on areas where they have hit the criteria provided and given action points on where they can improve. Showing a person where they can improve isn’t just about performance management; it means you are constantly stretching them and improving their skills and abilities.

All conversations about where improvements can be made, or about areas of their person’s work or output that you are dissatisfied with, must be put in writing in the form of an action plan. The next time you meet you can go through this and praise them for improvements they have made.

If improvements haven’t been made, then you need to decide the reasons for this and what to do – it is a training need or a disciplinary issue. Judge each person separately and if your company doesn’t have a disciplinary process in place, take legal advice to ensure you act within the law.


You will have invested a considerable amount of time and energy in recruiting the person with the right skills and values for your company. A good, well planned onboarding is just protecting your investment. It also helps you identify poor performance and deal with it as well as identifying good performance and praising the new employee.

Research also shows that new employees that have been inducted properly feel positive about the company and are more likely to perform to the best of their ability.

The first month or so that the employee joins your company is like the honeymoon period. The employee is likely to want to make a good first impression. After their first month they may feel more at home and they may begin to drop their standards in some areas of their work. It is important to maintain your high standards, and any areas of their performance with which you are not happy are dealt with immediately.

Good performance management just takes a little planning and putting some simple processes in place. It can often mean uncomfortable conversations, which I’m afraid that comes part and parcel of the role of manager. Some investment in putting together a performance management process in your company will make your company appear professional and well organised and will save you time and energy overall.

Blog Author - Helen Wilson Download this Blog in PDF format Performance Management

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