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Steps to Tackling Poor Performance

Whether an employee is not meeting a deadline or their standard of work is unacceptable, as a Manager it is your responsibility to provide prompt feedback to your employees. When poor performance is not tackled it can become a major problem and fester, resulting in loss of clients, poor workplace morale and potential adverse legal action.

Dealing with poor performance can be challenging and confronting for employees and employers alike, but it can often be as simple as having a conversation about the facts. To prevent Managers from placing poor performance in the ‘too hard basket’, they need a clear process, training and willingness to manage the issue.

The following steps will help you manage poor performance in your workplace in a fair and equitable manner.

Step 1 - Identify the reasons behind the poor performance

Meet with your employee and discuss and gain an understanding of the reasons behind the poor performance. A myriad of reasons could be behind the behaviour including no awareness or direction, lack of training, personal issues and/or cultural differences.

Step 2 - Set clear expectations and actions to improve performance

Your employee needs to understand what is expected of them and a clear and precise job description will establish responsibilities and measures. A Performance Improvement Plan (Plan) will identify how the employee is going to improve their performance. Actions to improve their performance could include training, offering external professional assistance, prioritising work and/or offering additional resources. The Plan also needs to include a specific timeframe for reviewing the performance against the agreed expectations.

Step 3 - Monitor and review performance in an established timeframe

Once the Plan has been established you need to review and monitor the progress by diarising and conducting any agreed follow up meetings. Managers need to provide ongoing feedback and coaching. The feedback should be specific and timely, using evidence and factual information to reiterate and support assertions. The employee’s performance will also need to be reviewed within the set timeframe of the Plan.

Further, employees need to be made aware of the consequences if their performance does not improve. This may result in warnings and ultimately termination of their employment.

BUT prevention is better than a cure….

…as often poor performance can be prevented in the first place. Poor performance can frequently be attributed to a number of factors including poor recruitment and unclear job expectations.

To ensure you recruit the right person for the job; you need to have a clear recruitment process in place to qualify the potential employee’s knowledge skills and abilities.

Once an employee is recruited, clear expectations of their role should be agreed. It is a benefit to develop a concise job description designating responsibilities and key performance indicators (KPI’s), thus providing managers with a measurable tool to hold staff accountable.

Developing a feedback culture helps break down the barriers and regular informal constructive feedback will ensure issues do not escalate in your business. 

Your Human Resources team should work with Managers to provide ongoing training and coaching in poor performance management. This will help the organisation develop a culture that encourages ongoing feedback from trained managers about performance issues in a supportive environment.

Please contact WCA- People & Culture Solutions if you require any assistance with Human Resources and Industrial Relations on (08) 9383 3293 or email admin@wcasolutions.com.

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