It’s no fun dealing with an employee whose work is just not up to scratch. But unfortunately, it’s one of those things that needs to be addressed – and it’s a case of the sooner the better for everyone involved.
How to spot an underperformer
We’ve all worked with this person. They’re so lovely. But no one will vouch for their work. They simply don’t perform the duties of their position to the standard required. But they’re just so nice …
Sometimes people are simply not cut out for the job they’re doing. It could be that they’re in the wrong industry or simply the wrong type of job.
Workplace policies, rules, procedures: this person doesn’t seem to realise they apply to them too, or even that they exist.
Whether it’s inappropriate comments, bullying behavior or harassment, this person has a bad reputation. They’re the one you don’t want to be stuck in a lift with or end up next to at the Christmas party.
It may be the era of disruption but affecting others through disruptive or negative workplace behaviour is one thing that’s definitely not trending.
Handling the problem: individual approach, standard procedures
If you’ve got a few of these personalities in your workplace, there are a few things to keep in mind:
How to start a conversation with underperformers
Step 1: Identify the Problem
Get specific about the problem and have a clear understanding what drives performance or underperformance within the workforce.
Where does the problem lie? Is it the job content and design? Is management style to blame? Is it just a poor job fit? Does the problem revolve around personal or external issues?
Step 2: Arrange a private meeting
Organise a meeting with the employee to discuss the problem. Depending on the situation, you may want to allow them to bring a support person to the meeting.
Make sure the meeting is held in a private, non-threatening and comfortable way. Be specific and provide examples when explaining your concerns.
Step 3: Give the employee an opportunity to respond
Everyone deserves a right of reply. Give the employee an opportunity to respond to what they’ve heard from you before considering the appropriate action.
Step 4: Develop a resolution plan
Where an employee’s personal circumstances cause their performance to suffer, refer them to things like professional help or counselling.
Work with the employee to develop a solution. Clearly communicate thow they need to improve and the consequences for not doing so.
Step 5: Review
Schedule follow up meetings to review performance against the plan you’ve agreed on. There’s no hard and fast rule to the number of meetings that will be appropriate.
Step 6: Follow up and give feedback
Continue to monitor performance and provide feedback – whether good or bad.
Step 7: Ensure compliance
You need to consider what action you will take if the employee’s performance remains unsatisfactory – more training, demotion, transfer or dismissal? Discuss these things with the employee.
If termination becomes the only option, follow relevant steps set out in any applicable Industrial Agreement, policies and procedures or employment contract.
If you employ less than 15 people, you’ll also need to familiarise yourself with the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code (available through the Fair Work website [link: https://www.fwc.gov.au/about-us/legislation-regulations/small-busin...]).
If you’re having trouble building up the energy or courage to confront an underperformer, remember this: the longer that poor performance is allowed to continue, the more difficult a satisfactory resolution becomes.
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