Servicing Australia wide HR consulting for employers Australia wide.

Managing poor employee performance

Managing poor employee performance. Like many processes, the more you do it the better you get but let’s be honest: who wants to work in a place where you get a lot of practice?

Reduced productivity, dissatisfied customers, low team morale, high employee turnover…all indicators that something’s not right in your business. While your systems and processes may have their part to play in the downturn, it’s more likely it’s a person (or people) at the root of your problem.

There’s no single best way of managing underperformance but there’s certainly plenty of ways to do it poorly and number one on the list of poor practices is to ignore it.

Addressing all instances of underperformance before they escalate is a sound way of reducing the number of issues that end up in a formal performance process. Set your standards and expectations of performance early (during the recruitment phase is ideal), reinforce these in your workplace documents and policies, hold regular discussions with each member of your team, communicate standards regularly and ensure your employees know who they can speak with if they have any questions or concerns about their work.

If it gets to the stage where a formal process is necessary, a little forward planning often takes much of the angst out of holding discussions around underperformance. The key is to take the emotion out of the equation, stick to the facts and provide an opportunity for improvement. Have a script for the discussion so you (and the employee) stay on track, be able to define objectively the instances of the underperformance and highlight the impact the performance or behaviour has had on the business. Provide the employee the opportunity to respond, agree on a plan to address the underperformance and move forward.

Your script might include something like:

  • Defined: nature of performance/behavioural issue
  • Impact on business/colleagues
  • Proposed level of disciplinary procedure (verbal warning, written warning, first and final written warning etc.)
  • Steps to modify performance/behaviour – should be realistic and agreed by all parties
  • Identified: person responsible for reviewing employee performance/behaviour improvement
  • Timeframe for improvement and how improvement will be measured
  • Employee: understands consequences of failing to address issue and right of reply offered

Managing poor employee performance is more effective if you:

  • Address it early and be consistent in your commitment to proactively manage underperformance
  • Ensure you are familiar with the role of a support person if you have to hold formal discussions with an employee about their performance
  • Document the outcomes. Sure it’s time consuming, but the one time you don’t do it will be the time you need it down the track. Think unfair dismissal circumstances.
  • Recognise and reward good performance: people are more inclined to accept feedback on poor performance if they know you also recognise the times when they are doing well.

There’s no shortage of information on managing poor employee performance; why not start at the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website:

  • PO Box 3956,
    Burleigh Town 4220,
  • 07 5576 4693
  • 0401 279 065
  • Bare Bones Consulting

Contact Us

Give Bare Bones Consulting a call to discuss our range of HR services to help your business succeed.

Even if you elect to not proceed after our first complimentary consultation you’ll be in a better position to know what’s possible.

We believe our approach to HR is unique... but then again, so is your business.

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Note: Bare Bones Consulting provides HR services for employers. Employees seeking advice on workplace concerns should contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94.