HR professionals are deeply sceptical of line managers’ ability to handle under-performing employees, according to a survey by Personnel Today’s sister publication, IRS Employment Review.
More than 90% of the 107 HR practitioners surveyed said that individual or team performance was an issue for their organisation, but less than one in three believed that line managers were confident or competent at dealing with under-performance.
This is a major problem for employers, as 93% of organisations reported that line managers were responsible for performance management – with just one in four (26%) of these seeing it as a shared responsibility for HR and the line.
According to the research, most organisations try to ensure that managers do their bit by holding them to account for their team’s performance through their own performance review (82%) and departmental objectives (73%), or by using competency-based approaches (46%).
But there seems to be little enthusiasm for stick-and-carrot approaches, with just 14% using incentive payments, and 5% dangling the prospect of promotion.
More commonly, employers offer line managers training in appraisal skills (77%), general management (68%), and the operation of the capability and disciplinary process (68%). More than half (58%) also try to improve line managers’ interviewing skills.
Relatively few, however, seek to bolster managers’ confidence in dealing with poorly performing staff through training in “softer skills”, such as coaching (33%), conflict management (28%), having difficult conversations (21%) or negotiation (15%).