Performance management

Who you take advice from matters ……… A LOT!

25 Sep
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Blog, Business, employent law, Employment Tribunal, Performance Management   |  No Comments

Would you allow a GP to carry out brain surgery on you?
Would you want your accountant giving you a manicure?

The answer to both, I suspect, is NO!

So why do people listen to family and friends when they need advice on their staff?

The answer we are sometimes given is “because they have run a business”; but more often than not it is just because the employer was venting and family and friends were trying to be supportive.

Would you want a business coach mentoring you if they had already had three of their businesses go into liquidation?

Would you want a business coach guiding your growth from £100k – £3m if they have never run a business of more than £250k and have only ever sold a product when you offer a service?

Making sure you surround your business with the right people is essential for business success and hiring the wrong people or taking advice from people because it ‘feels’ right is an irresponsible risk to introduce into your business.

I am a member of a number of business-related Facebook Groups where members are incredibly supportive of each other. People pose all sorts of business questions and other group members provide useful, enlightened, inspirational and business-focussed advice. However, (there is often a however) I get quite concerned about the people advice that is often given. It is still being given in the right way i.e. from the desire to be supportive and helpful; but so many times it is legally wrong! It may feel right, it may feel like the moral thing to do, it may even be what the advice giver has done in the past…… but none of that makes the advice right.

There are always options and when giving employment law or HR advice (they are not quite the same thing), it is essential that you know 3 things:

  1. What the law says
  2. What your contracts of employment and/or employee handbook says
  3. What has already been said to / is understood by the employee

When people ask about underperforming staff and everyone says “get rid”, “fire today”, “show them the door”, what they do not understand is the following:

  • Does the employee have a contract of employment and if so, what does it say?
  • Is there a contractual disciplinary, grievance or termination policy within the business?
  • How long has the employee been there?
  • Does the employee have any protected features?
  • Are there any medical issues which are causing the poor performance?

The answers to these will all determine the options available to the business owner and the risks associated with each option.

The latest employment tribunal figures show the number of claims last quarter increased by 165% compared to the same quarter last year. In the last quarter, the largest AVERAGE awards were given for disability (£30,700) and the average award for unfair dismissal was £15,007.

As employees no longer need to pay to take a case to the employment tribunal and discrimination claims do not require 2 years service and these awards are uncapped, employers really do need to be aware of the implications of what they say and the decisions they make.

So, while family, friends and other business owners are happy and willing to provide advice, you do need to make sure that you are taking the right advice. It must be right for your business, right for you and right for your employee…. It is just not worth risking your business over.

Mediocre Managers

08 Apr
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Blog   |  No Comments

Mediocre Managers – how much damage could they do?

If a Manager is mediocre, surely that’s better than completely useless? Let’s think about that……

What skills and attributes does a Manager need?

Looking at this from four points of view:
The Business
An Employee
The HR Department or Senior Management
The Customer

Google ‘Manager’ and the definitions and descriptions are endless, but some key ones include:

  • A leader first and foremost, someone people feel happy to follow
  • Ability to manage a team on a day to day basis
  • Excellent coaching and training skills
  • Knowledge of the business, products & systems
  • Good time management, ability to prioritise
  • Problem solver / decision maker
  • Approachability – door always open
  • Good communicator and listener
  • Empathetic – able to put themselves in the person’s shoes
  • Well presented, with good verbal and written skills

Quite a long list and by no means exhaustive, so what would happen if the person managing your team, speaking to your customers or managing you just doesn’t measure up?

This could lead to all sorts of problems. Employees may leave because they have been poorly treated or do not feel they have enough support. Backlogs may occur as work is not dealt with in a timely fashion, and wrong decisions may be made affecting your business. Customers may not get the first class service they pay for and buy less from you, or worse still stop using your company completely. Remember, bad news travels a whole lot faster than good!

And finally, your HR department or Senior Management may have a whole raft of problems to deal with including performance management,disciplinaries, grievances and dismissals. Prevention is better than cure!

Thinking about each key area in turn

The Business

Recruitment is key when looking for the right person. Really think about what you want the person to achieve in your business. Get your job description and advert right. When recruiting, plan out what you want to ask, key questions that are relevant to your business and take time to make a decision.

Once you have the person on board, draw up a performance plan, training plan and an agreed schedule of 121’s.  By catching a problem early, such as a poorly performing Manger, you can use timely and specific interventions and prevent long term damage to your business. Your training plan can address areas of weakness and development. Training can come in lots of different formats, from attending external courses, mentoring / shadowing, reading manuals and online information etc. Take advantage of whatever is out there to turn your Manager into the person who is going to shine!

Having a performance management plan in place will allow you to assess performance regularly and if there is an issue and the person just isn’t measuring up, will give you the evidence to take further action in the form of a disciplinary and even dismissal.

The Employee

What do you do if your own line Manager is mediocre and not supporting you? Well, jumping ship may seem like a good idea if things have got really bad, but the only person who that will affect is you. So take action first.  If speaking to them is getting you no-where, then ask to speak to their line Manager, plan very carefully what you want to say, as you do not want to come across as whinging. Hopefully, that will instigate some changes.

The Customer

As a customer, what would you do if you were getting less than fantastic service from a person within a supplier? Well the obvious action is to complain, put your thoughts in writing, and be constructive about what has happened and why you are unhappy. Give the company the opportunity to respond and resolve. Ultimately, if you do not get a response you are happy with, vote with your feet.

HR or Senior Management

Finally, mediocrity can cause problems for HR and Senior Management of the Company too. If a Manager is not managing effectively, HR or a Senior Manager often has to pick up the pieces. Even something such as managing performance is time consuming, with more regular 121’s, Performance Improvement Plans and regular monitoring needed and if the situation is not resolved and a disciplinary or dismissal is needed, this will  be time consuming and sometimes  costly.

So a mediocre Manager really isn’t acceptable and can affect so many different areas of a business. Taking action quickly whatever your interaction can prevent / resolve things getting out of hand.

For more information on managing staff effectively and
putting policy into place please contact DOHR on 01923 504 100 or email

The Dreaded Appraisal

22 Oct
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Blog, HR Consultancy, HR Policy, HR Support, Performance Management, Policies and Procedures   |  No Comments

Results sign postThis time of year, we find many of our clients want to take the opportunity to appraise staff. Of course there is no hard and fast rule as to when to do this and some companies will link appraisals to the financial year end, the end of the calendar year or the employee’s anniversary with the company.

It’s important for every business to have an appraisal process in place as part of its general performance management framework. Staff must have objectives set that are aligned to the business goals and these are often cascaded down through any management structures which exist within the organisation.  Appraisals are  also an excellent tool for keeping  staff fully engaged with the business as they help them to understand the business and to set their personal goals to that they contribute to future success.

An appraisal is an opportunity to step off the rat wheel, to step back from the daily grind and to review successes and failures with the benefit of hindsight. Activities and progress from the last year should be discussed and lessons learnt turned into positives. Nothing should be raised in an annual appraisal which has not already been discussed in a timely fashion throughout the year. This is a review and summarise activity which plays a significant role for future goal setting. Any areas for concern or opportunities for development should be discussed in an open and honest way during the appraisal.

There are four stages to an effective appraisal:

  1. Preparation
  2. Meeting
  3. Write up
  4. Follow through


Preparation for both the appraiser (manager) and appraisee (employee) is essential. The appraiser should ensure that the appraisee has all the paperwork at least a week before their meeting. The manager should ask the employee to work through the paperwork, filling it all in with their opinions, thoughts and views. Having a copy of last years appraisal or any interim reviews, targets etc. would be a useful starting point for reviewing the year.

The manager also needs to prepare and they should go through the same process for each of their direct reports.

The Meeting

The meeting is a two way process. It is an open and honest discussion, during which the appraisal form is jointly completed. While the employee has a significant input, if the appraiser and appraisee can not agree, it is the appraisers view which is documented and the appraisee has the opportunity to make their views known in a comments box. Examples and feedback from others are particularly powerful in an appraisal meeting.

Write it up

Following the meeting, the paperwork is finalised. Despite any differences of opinion in the meeting, the appraisers view is what is documented, hopefully with consensus. The employee should get the opportunity to add their comments and should be given a final copy of their appraisal form.

Follow up

Once complete, businesses do one of two things with the appraisal documentation. Many will just put it in the personnel file and forget about it until next year. Successful organisations however, will bring the document to life, making it a working, evolving and directive tool for guiding progress and development throughout the next 12 months. The documentation should be used in monthly or quarterly 121 meetings and updated where appropriate as roles change, the business evolves and set objectives are met.

Does your business carry out appraisals? Do you see a benefit in them or are they a waste of time? Do you even look at your appraisal notes during the year? We would love to know your views.

For help and assistance with any of your appraisal needs from policy to forms or training, we are happy to help.

PeopleTalk – July 2012

01 Jul
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Newsletter   |  No Comments


Hello and welcome to our July Newsletter…
It’s good to be back writing about what we’ve been up to. As last month, it’s been another busy one and we’re starting to think about summer holidays which is topical this month as we blog about annual leave, you can read it right here.

This month we meet Deidre Hattingh who joins the Team at DOHR as our HR Administrator and PA, she brings her impressive recruitment experience with as well as her all-important organisational skills. We also report back on last month’s Luton Best Business Expo where we exhibited and made lots of new introductions and saw some familiar faces too. As last month, we bring you some HR news headlines to keep you in the loop and we’d just like to mention our Facebook page which we’d like you to come and join.

We’d be delighted to hear your comments so feel free to email us at or of course, you could let us know via Facebook or Twitter!



  • Dealing with Fraud
  • Meet Deidre Hattingh, HR Administrator & PA
  • We Report from Best Business Expo
  • Latest HR News
  • DOHR followers and fans
  • Dates to remember

Fraud…Could it happen to you?

Without doubt, it’s important for us to take note about fraud and it’s possible devastating effects on business. As we’ve seen at the end of May this year, even the big boys get stung. Jessica Harper the now former Head of Fraud and Security for Digital Banking at Lloyds Bank appeared at Westminster Magistrate’s court charged with “Fraud by Abuse of Position. With this issue now at the forefront of our minds, it’s essential that small business owners take all reasonable and practical steps to ensure their business is protected properly.

Ironic that Ms Harper actually held this position of authority, but some might say that at least Lloyds had such a role, many small companies do not. However, it is vital that someone in these businesses takes responsibility for identifying possible fraudulent opportunities and policy is in place to ensure that the right measures are there to prevent fraud being committed by staff. We are well aware how fraud can have a crushing impact particularly for small companies. In current business times, the balance sheets are coming under increasing scrutiny and mind-set is “Every Penny Counts” therefore theft through fraud could lead to the collapse of a business.

Risk assessment for fraud is just as important as it is for disaster recovery, health and safety and operations. These risks need to be identified and rated for probability and impact, following this, mitigating actions must be put into place. Employees need to know what is acceptable and normal policy as well as the procedures and what would be considered to be fraud or theft. Companies need to document these policies, effectively communicate them to their employees, enforce the rules and have penalties issued for breach of policy.
Please remember, failing to manage the risk of fraud and / or theft is a failure to manage your business effectively.

For more information on fraud, setting up policy , implementing and dealing with issues please contact DOHR on

We’d love to hear your views, so please email us on with your comments.

Meet Deidré Hattingh

We are delighted to introduce you to Deidré, who joined us in June comes to us with a wealth of excellent experience and we’re thrilled to have her on board! Not only has she got excellent organisational skills which we know she’ll put to good use helping us in the office and keeping on top of the administration, she also has an outstanding background.

Deidré was born in South Africa and has been in the UK since 2005. Her experience is in both public and private sector clients working in business development, account management, head hunting, candidate management and interviewing. DOHR is very keen for Deidré to use her extensive knowledge of recruitment, building relationships with clients and candidates and help further develop our recruitment division. Coupled with her invaluable organisation skills and database knowledge we’re already wondering how we managed without her!

Deidré will be available to deal with day to day queries from DOHR clients, old and new, to contact her please call 01923 504102 or email her on

Luton Best Business Expo – We Report Back

We’re reporting back from last month’s Best Business Expo held in Luton where we had a terrific opportunity to showcase DOHR. We were delighted to welcome to our stand, a steady trickle of people throughout the day, and this gave us a real chance to meet as many faces as possible and talk through the problems and pains that we at DOHR can solve. In our experience, people tend not to engage HR proactively as they might an Accountant for example. Being able to meet people on our stand helps us to stay in touch and reminds those that we are available and this means they know how to find us when they have a problem or require HR support for their own businesses.

As well as the longer established businesses, we made some excellent connections with new companies, and that’s what exhibiting is about for us, meeting up with our current customers and bringing new clients on board.

Steve Clarke, one of the leading experts on grassroots sales and marketing strategies, was one of the keynote speakers and as usual was inspirational and highly practical. Without doubt, his passion for sales and marketing really shines through and drives others to want to take their business to the next level – his motivational approach to speaking helps listeners to believe that anything is possible. Another keynote speaker of the day, was Billy Schwer who gave us an insightful and interesting talk on the world of a boxer, and also someone who started in his first career at such a young age. Mr Schwer is someone who (literally) had to fight very hard to achieve his goals and he really inspires his listeners to do the same through seven key messages. For more information why not visit the website

Latest HR News

Good People Management – crucial for growth in SME’s

CIPD Research (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development)

This is what research from CIPD shows, good people management is an important ingredient for growth in SME’s. Says the research, HR is vital whatever stage of growth an organisation is at, whether or not there is a dedicated HR function. The research has identified six key insights for those in the HR role in SME’s or who look after people management at their place of business. Here are the insights courtesy of CIPD:

1) Anticipation is key: readiness and relevance will determine success – HR must have a deep understanding of the organisation’s context, strategy, vision and values in order to anticipate key stages of growth and transition that may require a shift in HR strategy and practices.

2) Organisation values and purpose need to be the constant bedrock of the business – HR must work hard to preserve the owner/leader’s founding vision and values by making them vibrantly part of how the organisation and its people work on a day to day basis, as well as ingrained in the organisation’s people management processes.

3) Skilful alignment of people management insight with leaders’ aspirations is a critical HR challenge – while leadership appetite for the more intangible HR issues may be limited in the early days of the business, HR must be confident in using its insight into current people management issues and future challenges to ensure its potential to influence long term performance is not overlooked.

4) Simplicity of structure and purity of process preserves innovation and entrepreneurship – although more processes and structure will be needed as a business grows, it’s important to find the right balance between structure and fluidity so that agility and entrepreneurial spirit are not stifled or undermined by bureaucracy.

5) Sustainable growth involves striking a balance between preservation and evolution – rather than being sentimental about what has always been, it is often necessary to let go of processes or aspects of the organisation’s culture that no longer support its vision and priorities.

6) Look beyond immediate operational issues and take the opportunity to lay the organisation’s cultural foundations for the future – process driven responses to challenges as a business grows may only provide short term solutions and miss a golden opportunity to support the longer-term goals of the organisation. particular

Dr Jill Miller (research adviser at the CIPD) has stressed that SME’s are vital for the UK economy but as material and financial resources are limited in today’s times, strong people management is of paramount importance to encourage long term performance and growth.

This research will result in the CIPD producing a report with activities, checklist and further case studies to support HR professionals in SME’s –we’ll be sure to keep you updated as and when the information comes through. DOHR is pleased that this research has been published as we already offer this support and advice to our clients. It has always been our belief that a good approach to managing employees encourages motivation and performance therefore growing business. For more information please call us on 01923 504100 or email
For the full press release please refer to the CIPD.

DOHR, Friends, Followers & Fans

June sees the re-launch of our DOHR Facebook page. We’ll be using this as a great social tool to interact with our Clients and Followers. Look out for our HR Facebook Clinic which we will launch shortly, an opportunity for you to ask those burning HR questions which Donna will answer. We’ll also be posting our blog, news, reviews and interesting HR information onto our page as and when it happens. To find us on Facebook simply follow the link and don’t forget we Tweet too, so please join us for all the latest, breaking HR news.

Our blogs include the coming Olympics, Employer’s obligations to members of the TA and we are blogging about Annual Leave as Summer Holidays are looming. Let’s hope for those of you going away you manage to escape to MUCH warmer climates!

Dates to remember 

20th July                  Start of Ramadam
27th July                  Olympics 
30th July                  World Friendship Day
6th August               Bank Holiday (Scot & ROI)
12th August             Olympics closing ceremony
18th August             Ramadam ends
27th August             Bank Holiday (Eng & Wales)



People Talk November 2011

01 Nov
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Newsletter   |  No Comments

WelcomeDonna Obstfeld - HR Manager

Welcome to November’s issue of Peopletalk. The plans for the Business Essentials Conference are well and truly taking shape, Kate Hickey our new HR Officer has hit the floor running and we turn our thoughts to Performance Management of our staff to ensure greater engagement and company success.



Kate Hickey

DOHR is delighted to announce the appointment of Kate Hickey as HR Officer. Kate joins with a Blue Chip background and brings a wealth of practical hands on HR experience. Working part time, Kate will be available to support clients with day to day HR issues, will be taking responsibility for childcare vouchers and creating bespoke HR contracts, policies and procedures tailored to our clients needs. Kate can be contacted on 01923 504101 or at


Business Essentials Conference

 If you didn’t catch the details in last month’s newsletter, you must check out the conference website


The conference takes place on Wednesday 23rdNovember at the Holiday Inn, Elstree. The conference has been designed for companies who employ. Owners and managers who have a desire to ‘get it right’, but don’t necessarily know what right is; who hear about legislation, but don’t understand the impact on their business or how to implement the requirements.

As with many things in life, we don’t know what we don’t know and the Business Essentials Conference is targeting employers who know they have to do something, but need some assistance in a business focussed, practical way.

 This one day conference will provide a mixture of open networking, structured workshops and seminar type sessions. There will also be a panel discussion where delegates are able to ask questions about their own business needs and get answers there and then. Places are limited, so book today at

Performance Management

When I discuss performance management with many of our clients, they initially assume I am referring to poor performance. This is in part true, but managing poor performance is only one aspect of a much bigger picture. All managers want their employees to do their jobs to the absolute best of their ability, to hit their targets, achieve their objectives and guarantee company success. But what happens if the objectives are not clear, employees aren’t told when they have done something wrong or are yelled at for not hitting their targets?

Performance management is about ensuring high levels of performance sustained over long periods of time. It’s about motivating employees, getting their input to their role and helping them achieve in-line with or above company expectations. So how do you achieve this dream state?

First of all the company and managers need to know and understand the corporate vision and goals. This needs to be communicated to employees effectively, regularly and consistently. Progress with these goals should be consistently measured and communicated to all company stakeholders.

Annual appraisals are a great performance management opportunity and should form part of your approach, a once a year meeting alone is worthless for achieving great performance. Regular discussions focussed on goals and performance rather than operational issues are essential and should take place at least quarterly, if not monthly. These are not weekly discussions – progress can not be effectively measured on such a short term basis. In sales roles this is different and weekly sales meetings are operational as opposed to developmental.

Companies should have a clear performance management policy and process which is communicated and actually followed. This will lead to a high performing company. For more information or for support in implementing your performance management policy, email

360° feedback

DOHR is delighted to offer clients an online tool for gathering feedback on employees and managers. 360° feedback allows an employee to receive feedback from managers, colleagues and sub ordinates. Each employee will have a written report identifying their strengths and weaknesses and their areas for improvement. For more information about how we can help you improve your company performance through open and honest feedback, contact us on 01923 504100.