Managing practice

Managing poor performance

A poorly performing team member can take up a great deal of the team's time and energy. This section looks at some of the ways they might be managed effectively.

NISW's findings are that many first-line managers feel isolated when dealing with persistent poor performance. This is so even when the first-line manager's own manager is actively involved and supportive. One solution is for team managers to work as a practice reference group for each other. Meeting with other first-line managers specifically to discuss their collective task, share skills and offer encouragement to each other, can be particularly helpful in this area. Go to Team manager support section

However, groups and individual managers can see that some circumstances may need stronger action beyond effective day-to-day management or particular attention in individual supervision. Sometimes, first-line managers are expected, either overtly or unintentionally, to contain persistent poor performance because the Department otherwise might face protracted action that the local authority and elected members might be reluctant to take forward. (This has been a particular finding of the Utting report 'People Like Us'). This had the effect, particularly where departments had few lines of communication between first-line and senior staff, of making persistent poor performance an issue of the first-line manager's own competence. In this situation, first-line managers may think that they are poor professional supervisors or that they needed better management skills or 'more training'. In fact, this can mask two other approaches: using a collective and open management of practice approach; and using HRD and performance appraisal frameworks.