“Doing great work in a great place to work“
Capability refers to an employee’s ability to perform the work expected of them to the standard required. This may be assessed by reference to an employee’s skill, aptitude, health or any other physical or mental quality in relation to the job that he or she is employed to do.
The purpose of the Capability Policy is to provide a framework for managing underperformance in a fair and consistent manner. The policy differs from the Disciplinary, Sickness Absence and other policies as its primary focus is that of improving performance to the standard required. The policy establishes guidelines for managers and staff when an employee’s work performance falls below the standard appropriate for the role due to underperformance.
Managers should ensure individuals and the team can and do get the job done.
- Document conversations, set clear objectives and targets, support the employee, use improvement plans for clear goal setting.
- Manage the capability issue informally as far as possible.
- Line managers should familiarise themselves with the informal stage noted in the capability process section below.
- The Line manager should lead and support staff to perform in their roles. Capability guidance can be found here.
- The Capability Toolkit is useful guide for managers which can be found here.
- The Performance Improvement Plan should be used to keep records from the early stages.
- All employees need to take responsibility to meet standards and expectations of the job.
- The full capability policy can be found here.
The policy applies to all staff except those on statutes (established). For Clinical staff capability issues will be managed jointly by the University and the relevant NHS Trust.
Why do people sometimes not meet the standards and expectations of their role?
- Insufficient training.
- Unclear instructions.
- Ill health.
- Not aware of standard expected.
- Cannot reach standard despite support.
- Carelessness or lack of effort.
- Under influence of drink/drugs.
The approach to managing these situations:
- Problem-solving – a structured way of achieving improvement.
- Being proactive and supportive.
- Seamless progression and gradual increase in formality.
- As part of the working relationship, actions by managers have to be:
- Timely, consistent and justifiable.
- In line with employment legislation.
- Using the correct procedure to support improvement.
The capability process
It is the line manager’s responsibility, together with the employee, to try and improve the capability issue in question. The line manager should support the employee giving feedback and look at the possibilities of training, coaching and mentoring. The capability guidance document, capability toolkit and performance improvement plan should all be used to try and informally rectify the capability problem.
If the matter can’t be rectified informally then escalate this to your department’s HR team or Business and Operations Manager in the first instance and provide the record of the initial stages. They will provide the needed advice and any additional support. If necessary, the department’s HR team/contact or the Business and Operations Manager will escalate it further to the relevant HR contact in the Clinical School HR Team. Before any formal escalation takes place, have a conversation with the Clinical School HR Team. To reiterate it is important to try and manage the capability issue informally as far as possible before moving it to a formal stage.
- Seek to resolve issues informally and as early as possible.
- Give feedback using CEDAR – be specific, factual and give examples – Clarify: “This is what I expect to see…” (the expected standard of performance or behaviour), Explain: “This is what I actually see…” (observed performance or behaviour), Discuss together, Agree plans for improvement, Review progress.
- Ask open questions to enable the individual to self-review and identify possible future actions.
- Allow time to demonstrate improvement and plan time to review progress.
- Is there sufficient improvement? Yes (no further action) or No (progress to the formal stage by speaking to the Clinical School HR Team)
Written notice of formal meetings, giving at least 5 day’s notice and informing of right to be accompanied.
- Stage 1: First formal meeting and First Improvement Notice.
- Stage 2: Second formal meeting and Final Improvement Notice.
- Stage 3: Third formal meeting and consider options (e.g. extend Final Improvement Notice, consider alternatives to dismissal, or dismiss on the grounds of capability)
Provide support and monitor progress at each stage. If sufficient improvement at any stage, inform employee that no further action will be taken.
Detailed flowcharts of each stage can be found here.
There are many courses that the University provide that can help aid the employee’s capabilities. Course can be found on the Universities Personal and Professional Development pages, most of which are free to attend.
The Clinical School HR Team regularly deliver Management Essentials training sessions, which includes training on managing capability. To view relevant training sessions and to sign up, visit the Management Essentials webpages.