Career Clinic

A: Analyse exactly what you’ve done. When dealing with performance issues at an informal level, the majority are resolved simply by being clear about the standards expected, and what part everyone has to play in getting things back on track.

Occasionally, however, it just doesn’t work out quickly. It might be that their goalposts have moved, for example if a personal or domestic pressure has just surfaced or become exacerbated and is distracting them from the task in hand. Or your goalposts might have moved, for example, if there is suddenly a need to cover other work within the team.

The best advice is to check the things you know the most about: your own workload. Can you, hand on heart, say that you did follow up the initial informal meeting on the date you agreed? Did you delve sufficiently deeply in your initial meetings to check whether the targets you agreed were realistic? Did you take notes and did they sign them off?

If you did do all of the above, you now should talk with your line manager or human resources department to enter the formal disciplinary process, as this could well be a “can do, won’t do” conduct issue.

If you didn’t do that preparation, all is not lost. Arrange another meeting with a very clear agenda, take good file notes and get them signed by both parties. The important thing here is that the member of staff is not necessarily signing to say that they agree with your views, but more that it is an accurate reflection of the discussion you had, the goals that were set, the support that would be provided and so on.

If you do decide that it is a conduct (deliberate non-compliance) issue with your member of staff and you’ve done everything that you can, you have to follow your formal disciplinary procedure.

More often than not, the outcome of an internal disciplinary procedure will be to issue a verbal or written warning. This should not be a hand-smacking exercise, but more of a “how will we stop this from happening again” situation. Co-operation with all parties is the name of the game in order to resolve the problem, and therefore a clear understanding of what needs to happen is your aim – and one that you should hang on to.

Alison Sanger is a social care HR consultant

A: Start managing them! That was what you were employed to do. You need to sit down with them and have a recorded conversation about their behaviour and how this is affecting the team.

Make sure to explore any reasons for non-compliance (could be child care or something else), but be clear about what your expectations are. At the meeting, set targets and agree a system for monitoring performance, then arrange follow-up meetings to review this a couple of weeks later.

If your non-complying person chooses to start doing their job and showing their team some respect, that’s good for all. If they don’t, you have started a constructive and documented process which, depending on your policies and procedures, can go to disciplinary should no improvements happen. Enlist the support of your superiors.

Ensure that you are managing all your staff fairly and giving them the same treatment. If you have asked “do you feel supported?” at every meeting (and documented this) it makes it very difficult later for him to say you were harassing him.

Name and address withheld

31 May question

Q: I’ve been asked to be a part of the interview panel for my new member of staff. I haven’t done this before. Can you give me some pointers?

We will answer this question in the 31 May issue of Community Care. Please send your advice for publication to by Wednesday 23 May.

Do you have your own career dilemma? Send your comments or questions for consideration by our HR expert and your peers to


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