Performance and capability

Performance and capability

Leaders get things done through people. To do this well they must manage and improve the performance of their people. This involves:

  • defining expectations in terms of objectives and behaviours
  • monitoring and providing feedback through the year, and
  • reviewing performance formally at the annual appraisal

Ongoing feedback should ensure that there are no surprises during performance appraisals. However where an individual's performance is clearly 'unacceptable', the manager and staff member will need to follow the Trust's Capability Management policy or Disciplinary policy and procedure, with the manager making sure the staff member has the necessary support and/or training to meet the job requirements.

  Check the hints and tips section for practical input to your conversations.


Match the tool to the task

  • Use the SMART goals resource to help you set your own objectives or work with your staff in setting theirs.
  • Providing feedback on how your staff member has performed is an important part of appraisal and capability discussions. Use the AIID feedback tool to prepare well for these conversations.
  • Use the 5 Whys tool to try to get below what appears to be an obvious problem (the symptom) and to explore what might be the cause. Dealing with the cause, rather than the symptom, will have longer lasting benefits.
  • When you are trying to understand how to get the best out of a staff member, use the Skill/will matrix to help you.
  • When you know that a member of your team is under performing, use the GROW coaching tool to coach them and help them achieve their best.

Related policies and links

Further reading

  • Giving and Receiving Performance Feedback, Peter R Garber (2004)
  • Crucial conversations, Kerry Petterson, Joseph Grenny (2011)
  • Discipline Without Punishment: The Proven Strategy that Turns Problem Employees Into Superior Performance, Dick Grote (2006)

Hints and tips for conversations

  • Set expectations
  • Outcomes are what you achieve and behaviours are how you achieve them. Both are important.
  • Ongoing feedback - feedback happens on a daily basis not just at appraisal time.
  • Set fair and achievable expectations that are consistent with the role.
  • Use informed judgment to assess performance on a factual basis with data gathered over the year.
  • Reduce subjectivity. Try to incorporate several viewpoints. Ask peers, direct reports, and more senior managers for input.

Designed and developed for the London Leadership Academy by Heather Schoenheimer Consulting, in conjunction with the Royal Free London Foundation Trust OD Department