The College is committed to developing and supporting staff to work effectively to meet the objectives of their roles. The College has policies, Folder of requirements procedures and processes in place with the aim of supporting the  goals of its employees.  Line managers are best placed to offer one-to-one support and guidance to their staff in meeting these objectives and developing new skills.  The College’s Capability Policy is designed to support staff and managers in dealing with matters relating to performance which may arise from time to time.

This guidance is designed to aid you to navigate the Capability Policy & Procedure to ensure you have an understanding of when/why and how it is used.  Wherever possible the informal process should be initiated rather than the formal. 

The Capability Procedure shall apply to all staff except those staff in their probation period and those covered by the Appendix to the College Charter and Statutes 2015 governing academic staff.

This guidance has been designed to act as a point of reference.  For further details please refer to the full policy which can be downloaded from this page's sidebar.

What the College Expects from you

The College expects you to manage staff in line Imperial Expectations and Respect for Others and meet with your staff on a regular basis to discuss work and give advice/ guidance on work matters.

The College treats equality of opportunity seriously and has an equality framework to ensure equality of opportunity.  Implementation of the Capability Policy & Procedure must be clear and transparent and not subject to any unfair discriminatory practices. 

Frequently asked questions

What is capability?

Capability issues are problems arising where a member of staff is not sustaining the acceptable level of performance needed to meet the requirements of the role in terms of the quantity and quality of work despite genuine effort.  

What do I need to do to assist the member of staff to meet the requirements of the role?

On your member of staff taking up the post, you need to outline clearly the standards and expectation of the role to the post holder.  The duties listed in the job description will form the basis of the discussion. Such expectations may also be discussed as part of regular team or one-to-one meetings and may be reviewed as part of your member of staff’s annual PRDP meeting. 

I have communicated the standards against which he/she will be assessed. What do I do if I am concerned about a member of staff’s performance?

If you have any concerns, discuss it with HR in the first instance.  HR will advise how to address/raise your concerns with the individual. 

Initial Discussion

Prior to any structured support you should have an informal discussion in which you discuss barriers preventing effective performance.  You should also explore any training that would be required to bring the individual to the required standard.  Follow-up meetings should be held to assess progress and whether a more structured support is required.

Structured support

Where there is no improvement following previous discussions, you should arrange a more structured support by setting specific objectives in order for them to meet the required standards. These may include:

  • setting specific, measureable, achievable, realistic and timely (SMART) objectives in relation to their performance; 
  • exploring additional support and/or training that will help them to meet required standards of the role.

You will agree a reasonable period of review with your member of staff.  During the review period, you will meet regularly to review their performance and provide feedback. These meetings will provide an opportunity for you and your staff to discuss the support and/or training in place and amend or add to this where necessary.  You will also confirm your discussion and objectives, support and review period in writing.

The duration of review will depend on the nature of the performance concerns and the particular objectives set for the individual so discuss and agree a reasonable period of review.   Please contact HR if you would like to discuss the duration of the review period.

During these informal meetings, make the individual aware that if they do not meet the standards required during the review period, consideration will be given to a formal performance review process. 

If your member of staff has a disability, give full consideration to their duties and make reasonable adjustments.  If you have any concerns or are unsure about what adjustments you need to make, contact HR, the Head of the Equalities, Diversity and Incusion Centre (EDIC) or Occupational Health.

 

Formal action

If following a period of structured support your member of staff’s performance has not reached the required standard, you will need to discuss this with your HR representative, who will advise and support you with the formal stages of the Capability procedure.  This will involve the member of staff being invited to attend a First Formal Performance Review Meeting.

  1. HR will be present at the meeting
  2. Member of staff will be given five days’ notice of the formal meeting.
  3. Member of staff will have the right to be accompanied by Trade Union representative or work colleague.
  4. During the meeting, you will outline how your member of staff’s performance has fallen below what is required and will talk through evidence and/or examples .
  5. Member of staff will have the opportunity to provide details on anything that may be affecting performance.
  6. Additional training or any other support to help member of staff achieve and maintain required standards will be discussed and agreed.

The member of staff has the option to request for the case to be presented to another line manager, subject to the discretion of Human Resources.  Where this is agreed, you will present to the alternative manager.

After the meeting all the information provided will be considered by you and your HR representative.  The outcome may be that no further action is required, or a first written improvement notice and an improvement action plan will be issued to the individual.  This will be communicated in writing to the member of staff within 10 working days of the meeting.

Human Resources will be available to explain what you need to do and provide guidance in preparing the first improvement notice (warning) and the improvement action plan.

Where a warning is issued, the member of staff will have the right to appeal against the outcome.  Details of the process of appeal will be provided in the letter.

At the end of the first formal notice, where the standard of work has improved, no further action is required.

Where the standard of work has not improved, a Second Formal Performance Review Meeting may be held and this will be confirmed in writing. The process of the second formal performance review meeting will be the same as the first formal performance review meeting.  The outcome may be that no further action is required, or a final written improvement notice (warning) and an improvement action plan will be issued to the individual.  This will be communicated in writing to the member of staff within 10 working days of the meeting.

What happens at the end of the final improvement notice?

Where performance has improved to the standard required, no further action is required.

Where performance has not improved, the member of staff should be invited to a Formal Capability Review Hearing.   A senior manager will hear the case. 

The member of staff will be given notice of the meeting and have the right to be accompanied by Trade Union representative or work colleague.  During this meeting, you will describe to the panel the standard of work expected for the role and explain how his/her performance has fallen below the standards required. You will also provide information about measures that have been taken to support him/her to improve performance. The member of staff will have the opportunity to provide details on factors he/she feels have affected performance.

After the hearing, all the evidence will be considered, and a written response will be sent to the member of staff within 10 working days of the meeting.  The options available to the panel are:

  • To extend the improvement action plan review period.
  • Possible adjustments to the role within the remit of the grade and the operational requirements.
  • Redeploy your member of staff to alternative work on the same grade or a lower grade and pay with both your and their agreement. 
  • Dismissal with appropriate notice, on grounds of the lack of capability.

If the member of staff is issued with a warning or dismissed they have the right to appeal against the decision.  Details of the process of appeal will be provided in the letter.