Human Resources

Annual Review and poor performance

How Annual Review differs from conversations addressing poor performance


Annual Review

Addressing Poor Performance


The process applicable to all University employees which provides individuals with an opportunity to reflect on their role and their performance against agreed objectives and discuss this with their line manager, or reviewer. It involves setting mutually agreed objectives for the following year and discussion of any development that is needed to support these objectives.

The University’s Managing Capability policy sets out the procedures available to managers to address poor performance, where an employee is not achieving the required standards of performance for their job.

Content of Discussion

Annual Review allows for reflection and discussion around all aspects of the reviewee’s performance.  In the main, it is anticipated that the Annual Review conversation will be about positive performance. A discussion where a person has achieved their objectives, highlighting achievements and discussing any barriers encountered.

A discussion under the Managing Capability Policy focuses on the aspects of performance where the person is not performing to the required standard

It is not a wide ranging discussion about future objectives, development and aspirations.

There is a positive aspect to using the Managing Capability Procedure in that it allows an employee time and opportunity to improve their performance. Clear objectives are agreed and set out with a clear plan towards working towards them. The employee can also access support, e.g. training, to support them in achieving these objectives. This allows them time, and gives them support, to show they are able to perform at the required standard.


Annual Reviews happen once per year between 1 August and 31 July.  It is anticipated that there will be ‘check in’ conversations throughout the year between reviewee and reviewer to assess progress against objectives. These can will take many different forms – 1:1 meetings, team meetings, interim reviews, etc.

Managers should always address poor performance as soon as it is identified by speaking to the employee informally to make them aware of where their performance is falling short of the required standard, to explore any factors that might be affecting the employee’s ability to perform and to offer support to help the employee make the required improvements. These conversations can happen at any time throughout the year and should not be delayed or combined with the Annual Review discussion. Where performance continues to deteriorate or does not improve following an initial informal discussion managers should seek advice from their local College Support Group HR team and instigate the procedures in the Managing Capability Policy.

Discussion of Performance Issues

During Annual Review, it is appropriate to refer to ongoing performance issues although the Annual Review is not a performance management meeting.

If poor performance is discussed in Annual Review, this would generally be a relatively minor slip in performance and reasons for this and solutions could be discussed at the Review in the context of other performance and objectives. However, it should not be the first time that the reviewee is made aware of the problem, this should have been picked up previously with the reviewee.

If the reviewee is going through the capability process then an Annual Review would normally take place, and discussion would focus on the elements of the role that were being performed adequately.  In the part of the role where there was sustained poor performance, any resulting objectives and development needs would be discussed separately as part of the capability process.

If the overall performance is poor and sustained and all aspects of the role were being dealt with as part of the capability process then the Annual Review should not happen.  If this is the case, you should seek advice from your local HR team.

Having a difficult conversation about poor performance in teaching

This is a short video which shows how you could approach a conversation where you want to highlight poor teaching performance.  This conversation only covers teaching elements of poor performance.  In a real conversation you would potentially explore many other areas, for example,  work commitments, or pressures and stresses dependent on the individual.

If you have a real concern about workload pressure or stress or impact on health for one of your team, you should consider speaking to your line manager and/or your local Human Resources representative.

Time commitment: 7 minutes

To view the video in full screen mode please go to Media Hopper, the University's media asset management platform.

Related Links

Annual Review Process

A to Z of HR Policies