A Manager’s Guide
4 What is the purpose of Performance Management?
5 The Performance Management Framework
8 Holding an effective PPDR meeting
9 How do I set effective objectives?
10 Managing under-performance
12 How can I motivate my staff?
13 How can I give meaningful and constructive feedback?
15 How can I reward good performance?
The University of Southampton has a strategic aim to be a world class
University across the range of its research, educational, entrepreneurial
and management activities. Alongside recruiting and retaining the best
staff it is key to that ambition to enable a full and effective contribution
from staff and to facilitate their continuing high performance.
Those with staff leadership or management responsibilities have a
central role in enabling high performance; establishing the cultural
expectations about outputs and standards of work and openly communicating with
colleagues about performance and goals.
Performance management is about maximising individual and team performance to
achieve a motivated workforce resulting in the highest quality outputs. People have a right
to know what it is that is expected of them, to engage in developing appropriate team and
personal goals so to enable them to be motivated to perform to the best of their potential.
This requires a continuous and flexible approach that encourages regular and constructive
dialogue. This guide explains how to reward good performance and how to help poorer
performers to the standards they seek.
This guide aims to support those with management responsibility for others to take full
responsibility for enabling the best possible performance from staff reporting to them.
Through this guide, through skills development programmes and through advice from
HR Client Partners we seek managers who can be confident in making consistent and fair
judgements on levels of performance. Benchmark standards for all staff are stated in the
Career Pathway Skills and Capability Guidelines and personal performance development
and review processes exist to enable the dialogue which is so important to success.
Director of Human Resources
What is the purpose of
There are five main purposes:
• to achieve the University’s strategic ambition to be a world class
organisation across all areas of activity
• to be an efficient and effective organisation to ensure it meets its financial
commitments, and to continue to fund its ambitious plans
• to be a well managed autonomous organisation
• to be an employer of choice
• to enable staff to give of their best
The University requires those with responsibility for others (called ‘managers’ from
this point for brevity) to facilitate high performance in their management role and this
is underpinned and informed by a framework of interrelating processes that impact on
performance. These are:
• Performance and Development Review
• Reward Mechanisms
• Skills and Capability Standards
• Disciplinary and Capability Procedures
These are discussed in more detail in the following pages.
Managers are expected to engage in a whole range of interrelated
processes which underpin successful performance; neglect is likely to
lead to performance and management difficulties later on.
Recruitment – recruiting the right people is essential and relies
on having a well thought out job description and thorough person
specification taking into account behaviours such as: ability to work in
a team. This means knowing exactly what you want at the outset to ensure you attract the
right person through appropriate advertising and selection processes. The organisational
impact of poor recruitment is significant in relation to cost, time and reputation.
Induction – the first few weeks of employment are vital to the success of any
appointment and it is during this time that a new employee will form an overall
impression of the University. The orientation of a new employee to their post is
predominantly at a local level and is complemented by the wider University events and
central information. Crucially, the induction process will identify the future development
needs for that member of staff. Employees who do not receive appropriate induction take
longer to become fully effective in their role, may not achieve their full potential and are
more likely to leave in the early stages of their employment.
Further details on Induction can be found on HR Web Site under Policies, Procedures and
Guidance. Click on Induction
Probation – an offer of employment is based on the mutual expectation that the
individual is capable of and understands the requirements of the post. The probationary
period is there to support the employer and employee in this period of development
and assessment. During this time it is particularly important that support, feedback and
training are provided and records are kept by the manager to enable an informed and
timely decision to be made regarding confirmation of appointment. If it becomes clear at
an early stage that despite the necessary support and guidance having been provided the
probationer is not going to attain the necessary standards, prompt action should be taken
in conjunction with HR to address the situation (which can include dismissal). When
probation is not managed properly it can result in costly difficulties for all those involved
at a later stage.
Further details on Probation can be found on HR Web Site under Policies, Procedures and
Guidance. Click on Probation Arrangement.
Personal Performance and Development Review (Appraisal)
– reviewing an individual’s performance with them must be carried out on a regular and
consistent basis and will complement the more formal and mandatory PPDR meeting. The
Career Pathway Skills and Capability Standards provide a fair and universal benchmark
for performance expectation and establishing agreed priorities during the PPDR meeting.
In addition, the individual’s development needs should be reviewed and planned.
The PPDR is a key record of performance objectives and expectations and can be used
to inform the reward, capability and disciplinary processes. It also informs local and
strategic staff development planning.
Further details on PPDR can be found on HR Web Site under Policies,
Procedures and Guidance. Click on Personal and Performance Development
On HR Home Page click on: Staff Development. Briefing Sheets. Personal
Performance and Development Review.
Personal Development – contributes towards a motivated
and high performing work force. Development needs should be
discussed and addressed during probation, at the performance review
meeting and also when an individual takes on new duties as part of
their role. For development to be successful it should be included in all process change and
always discussed openly. To be effective, it has to respond to genuine needs and contribute
to organisational success. Although self-managed development is very much encouraged,
there is an onus on all managers to ensure that staff are provided with opportunities for
growth and development where possible.
Further details on Development can be found on the HR Web Site. On HR home Page click on Staff
Reward Mechanisms – the University aims to offer a competitive base salary
structure for the sector, and has the means for rewarding additional responsibility within
the grade (known as Higher Responsibility Zones or HRZs) as well as a means to reward
high performance (through accelerated increments and one-off staff achievement awards).
Promotion and regrading procedures are clearly established in the University which can
be used for high performing individuals when appropriate to the role being performed.
Further details on Reward Mechanisms can be found on the HR Web Site. Click on Managing People
tab. Click on Managing Performance and HRZs.
Skills and Capability Standards – are central to effective performance
management and relate to all the performance management processes. They inform job
descriptions and person specifications in recruitment. They determine the level and type
of induction provided. They give a clear expectation of performance standards during
probation and throughout employment. They provide a benchmark for reward and
capability and they are a reference point for training and development planning.
Further details on the Skills and Capability Standards can be found on HR Web Site. Click on
Working Here tab. Click on Career Pathway Book.
Disciplinary and Capability Procedures – formal warnings and dismissal
are the final sanctions in managing underperformance. They are implemented when
informal support mechanisms have failed to raise performance to the expected level for
Further details on Disciplinary and Capability Procedures can be found on the HR Web Site.
Click on Managing People tab. Click on Managing Performance and HRZs. Click on Disciplinary
Performance Management Framework
Performance Skills and
Probation Management Capability
Induction and Capability
Holding an effective PPDR
A PPDR meeting is likely to take place between an employee
and their direct line manager, via a one-to-one meeting. For
staff in the ERE (Education, Research and Enterprise) career
pathway who are outside of probation this is usually every two years and for other career
pathways usually annually. Below are some good practice tips for ensuring an effective
• encourage the individual to prepare for their review and if necessary talk
to them in advance about what they would like to discuss in the meeting
• enable the individual to contribute to the discussion about their own
performance; self review is a critical part of performance management
• keep the meeting conversational and ensure that the individual is
comfortable enough to be open and honest with you
• consider the individual’s achievement against the level of expectation
driven by the skills and capability standards of the job
• prepare constructive honest and focused feedback. In other words, don’t
use the meeting as a dumping ground for everything you want to say,
then again, too vague or no feedback can come across as showing a lack of
interest in that individual
• consider and discuss any development needs that have become apparent
• take ownership for any factors beyond the employee’s control
• listen to the employee, but stay focussed on the purpose of the meeting
• encourage the individual to propose actions to overcome any problems
and review at next meeting
• ensure clear objectives are set for the following review period
On HR Home Page click on: Staff Development. Briefing Sheets. Personal Performance and
Effective Objective Setting
Objectives (or goals) describe something which is to be achieved. They
can come in the form of targets where you are looking for a quantifiable
result or tasks related to a specific piece of work or project.
SMART is an acronym to describe a process for writing objectives. It
stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.
However, MARST is often a better way to actually write objectives.
Measurable is probably the most important consideration. You will know that the
objective has been achieved because you have the evidence and/or measure of success. It
has often been said that ‘you can’t manage what you can’t measure’.
Achievable is linked to measurable. There is no point in setting an objective that is
unlikely to be achieved, or one that you cannot tell is completed.
How can you determine if it’s achievable?
• you know it’s measurable
• others have done it successfully before
• it is theoretically possible
• you have access to the necessary resources
If it is achievable, it may not be Realistic . If it isn’t realistic, it’s not achievable. Realistic
is about resources, money and opportunity.
You need to know:
• who is going to do it
• do they have (or can they get) the skills to do a good job?
• where the necessary resources are coming from
The main reason it is achievable but not realistic is that it’s not a high priority. Often
something else needs to be done first, before success can be achieved. If this is the case, set
up two (or more) objectives in priority order.
You will know if your objective is Specific
• everyone who is involved knows that it includes them specifically
• everyone involved can understand it
• your objective is free from jargon
• you have defined all your terms
• you have used only appropriate language
Timely means setting deadlines. These must be included otherwise the objective isn’t
measurable. But deadlines must be realistic, or the task isn’t achievable.
When a manager considers that an individual is underperforming, this should be dealt
with as quickly as possible. Early intervention will avoid the issue escalating and enable
the manager with the employee to take full early control of the situation. Managers
should advise the employee at an appropriate stage of the problem and seek together a
plan to achieve the standards required. Clearly, if this fails advice can follow that if they
fail to improve it will result in the applicable disciplinary or capability procedures being
Initially, however, this should be carried out informally to highlight your concerns to the
Exploring the causes
• are there factors outside the individual’s control?
• are there personal issues affecting performance?
• has the individual received appropriate support?
Consider if external support is required
• Counselling Service
• Occupational Health
• clarify management responsibility and implications
• clarify what the individual is responsible for
• if others are involved in the work, have they
taken responsibility for their contribution?
• be clear about what you expect of the individual
• use the Career Pathways Booklet to confirm the
expectations on the role
• state clearly how this under performance is
having an impact on the expectations made on
Clarify action to be taken
• be clear about what you expect to be done
• give clear time periods for actions
• set clear qualitative/quantitative standards
• arrange dates for review meetings
• keep written records of all meetings and conversations
• put all action points and timescales in writing to the individual
• arrange counselling or occupational health intervention if appropriate
Provide appropriate development
• implement any development you believe will enable the individual to
work to the required performance level eg courses, coaching, mentoring.
The issue could be a ‘one off’ and things could go straight back to normal. However, the
situation should always be reviewed over a length of time determined by the manager.
The Performance and Development Review forms can be used as a framework and record
for these meetings. It is good practice to provide the individual with a copy of these too.
You should keep your own record of all meetings, outcomes and subsequent performance
once your concerns have begun.
If this process fails to bring about a change in performance, you should now enter the
formal stage of disciplinary or capability procedures. This is not of itself a punishment
but safeguards the rights of those involved while the issue is being properly managed.
It is strongly recommended that you consult with your HR representative at this point.
(Depending on your position it may be advisable to discuss this with your manager before
The records kept during the informal stages will support you in any action taken during
formal proceedings and make the whole process easier. The formal procedures for
capability allow for hearings at which the member of staff is entitled to be represented
or accompanied and given an opportunity to respond
to the issues being considered; and these may result in
formal warnings being issued, including a defined period
of time within which the improvement is sought; and may
ultimately result in dismissal.
Further details on Disciplinary Procedures can be found on the
HR Web Site. Click on Managing People tab. Click on Managing
Performance and HRZs. Click on Disciplinary Procedure.
How Can I Motivate my Staff?
People join the university wanting to do well and succeed. If problems exist then the staff
member should be equally keen to see the matters resolved which are impacting on work
Show people they are valued
• through regular work discussions and giving feedback on their
• by showing interest in what they value
• by developing a positive atmosphere of approval and co-operation
• by ensuring they understand the importance of their contribution to the team’s
• praise and communicate individual and team successes
• review team’s progress with them regularly
• hold regular meetings to discuss individual progress towards objectives,
advise and coach where necessary
• explain the University’s results and achievements in context
• set targets
• provide relevant on and off the job training
• facilitate any necessary internal and external contacts
• encourage and provide opportunities for people to coach/train others in the
specialist skills they have
• review tasks so that people have the opportunity to develop new skills
• provide opportunities for individuals to take
• encourage ideas and empower people with the
responsibility for implementing them
Motivation is important in gaining discretionary effort from
high performing individuals - unless individuals feel fully
motivated they may not be inspired to give of their best.
Having a sense of achievement, being given responsibility and recognition, the nature
of the work itself, and opportunities for personal growth are often motivating factors for
Practical ways of achieving these are to:
• allow people the freedom to work in their own style
• encourage them to take responsibility
• keep the role challenging
• give feedback and share feedback you have received
• link their contribution to University success
• encourage activity in the wider University
Experiencing a poor relationship with an immediate manager is a primary reason for an
employee to leave an organisation. Anyone with responsibility for managing others should
spend a few minutes each day reflecting on how far they have inspired and energised,
instead of asking, or even worse, demanding that someone perform.
Line managers need to think about the impact their words and actions have on employees’
self confidence and self-belief. Does their ‘constructive criticism’ leave people feeling more
or less confident in their ability to do their job?
How Can I Give Meaningful
and Constructive Feedback?
The purpose of feedback is to help employees understand how well they are meeting
performance expectations and achieving results.
It is helpful to address:
• behaviours and attitudes in respect of both performance and
relationships with colleagues and clients
• progress and achievements in meeting goals and undertaking tasks
• development needs and capability standards critical to work success
• any other matter that is linked to expectations and performance of
Feedback is a regular process that acknowledges and informs continued
good performance or improves the current situation or performance.
• Feedback is most effective when it is given as soon as possible after the
• Don’t forget to give positive as well as negative feedback
• When you discuss performance and goals on an ongoing basis, people know
where they stand at all times, so they are more likely to raise issues themselves
• Be clear about the issues you are discussing; the behaviour and effects of this.
Providing feedback in terms of previously outlined goals and expectations
is better understood and accepted
• Offer comments as perceptions, to be checked for clarity and understanding,
rather than the truth. Be alert to issues over which the person has little or
• Don’t overload. Choose one or two critical issues to concentrate on
• Focus on specific behaviours that the person can change Describe the impact
of their action on individuals or the group. Keep your comments objective,
don’t get personal, deal with the facts of the current situation, and describe the
effect the performance has had on you
• Be specific in giving feedback. Describe exactly what happened so that facts,
not impressions, form the basis of the feedback
• Check the feedback to make sure your understanding is accurate and fair.
Check with others to avoid misjudging the situation
• Include observations on constructive behaviour as well as negative ones.
People need to know what success looks like. You may want to refer to others
in the team to illustrate success and meeting your expectations
• Offer specific suggestions for improvement
• Offer encouragement and end on an optimistic, but realistic note
• It is best to end a feedback discussion with clear action steps, including follow
up dates. Keep a written record of the issues discussed during the feedback sessions
How Can I Reward
We should remember that employment is a mutually
beneficial process where individuals develop skills and
perform a particular role for the University, and in return
they are rewarded through their salary and other benefits.
The University’s reward structure aims to be transparent and fair. It also provides
managers with the tools to reward good performance.
For consistent high performance, staff can by discretion be rewarded with accelerated
increments if they have headroom within the core zone of their pay grade.
For specific one-off achievements, staff can be recommended for non-recurring ex-
gratia payments through the Staff Achievement Scheme.
Where consistent high performance is followed by staff assuming additional
responsibilities, movement into and through the Higher Responsibility Zone of the
pay grade may be appropriate.
In some instances the appropriate Career Pathway can be used to seek the promotion
or regrading of an individual where the staff structure and affordability allows, and
where the member of staff concerned will be able to fulfil responsibilities at the next
Level in the Career Pathway structure.
Further details can be found on the HR Web Site.
For Rewards and HRZs:
Click on Managing People tab. Click on Managing Performance and HRZs. Click on Staff
Achievement Scheme; or Additional Discretionary Increments; or Higher
For Promotion and Regrading:
Click on Managing People tab. Click on Promotion and Regrading.
Human Resources Department
George Thomas Building
Level 4 Highfield
Southampton SO17 1BJ
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