The majority of managers are not competent enough to deal with under-performing employees, according to a survey of HR professionals by XpertHR.

The development of “performance conversation” skills is considered to be the most important aspect of performance management training, yet this aspect of learning is only mandatory for managers at 20% of organisations, according to research by XpertHR1.

This may well explain why 45% of the HR professionals responding to the survey report that the majority of their managers are not competent enough to deal with under-performing employees.

XpertHR Training Editor and author of the report Charlotte Wolff said: “Employee underperformance is an issue that affects nine in ten of the organisations in our research, and the HR community is in broad agreement that the competence and confidence of line managers is a vital part of the performance management process. It is surprising therefore to find that one-third of the employers have trained less than half their managers in any performance management skills.”

An analysis of the employers that have been most successful in tackling underperformance finds that the most effective performance management training includes drama-based role-play, the development of coaching skills, and follow-up learning opportunities.

Performance management training for managers most frequently covers the appraisal system, and how to use the capability and disciplinary procedures (all included by eight in ten employers). Training in how to conduct a difficult conversation is offered by 71%, but this is more likely to be voluntary. Coaching skills are offered at 61% of the organisations, and are mandatory at just 13%.

About the survey

Responses from HR professionals in 170 organisations were received.