If an employee is not doing their job in line with their employer’s expectations this is a performance issue (sometimes called poor performance). Very few employees would come to work wanting to be unsuccessful in their job. It can be soul destroying and stressful for employees if they can’t deliver in their job.
Establishing effective processes to grow and manage performance can have significant benefits for your organisation, as it can lead to happier, more motivated and better performing employees. It is worthwhile implementing, (or reviewing and updating) managing performance processes to support your organisation.
Employment agreements and workplace policies
Check the employment agreement and workplace policies before doing anything. Many employment agreements or workplace policies have a set process to follow when a performance issue is identified which you will need to follow. It will also be useful to read through this information.
A performance issue is where an employee:
- fails to perform all, some or one of the duties of the position to the standards required; this can be issues of speed, quality, quantity or how they are delivering service
- doesn’t comply with work rules or work procedures and may include negative and disruptive behaviour that impacts on co-workers. Note: This type of issue should not immediately be treated as misconduct when the employee is new to the workforce or to the work. In these situations, it is important to be sure that the employee is aware of the work rules and has been trained and understands the procedures which apply. Where the concern relates to a behavioural issue then make sure that the employee is aware of what the acceptable behaviour for the workplace is.
Having these systems are in place and well-understood can help employers to manage performance issues effectively in their organisations:
- management of performance issues policy/process
- using performance improvement plans
- management training on offering constructive feedback and using performance tools
- position descriptions
- process for resolving problems.
Why manage performance issues
Managing performance issues proactively gives the employee an opportunity to be their best in the role and improve productivity. Managing performance issues is aimed at getting an employee to the standard of performance required; to ensure they can do their job fully and in the right way all of the time. It uses clear focused discussions and sets out easily understood and achievable standards. There is a fair and reasonable time to improve. Improvement is very important and required, particularly when there’s a possibility of disciplinary action, which may include termination of employment if the employee fails to get to the standard required to do their job properly.
Managing performance issues correctly results in the employee having a clear understanding of:
- where they may not be doing their job to the right standard (what they’re doing and how they’re doing it)
- what they really need to be doing and how they should be doing it
- the support and assistance they’ll get to help them to do their job as required
- the length of time that they have to get up to the standard they need to
- what may happen if they’re not able to meet that standard.
How to manage performance issues
Ways to manage performance issues effectively and positively, using informal and formal processes. When an employee is not doing their job properly (or fully) it’s important to act quickly. Managers shouldn’t sit back and hope the problem will fix itself. Raising performance issues with employees can be challenging for both employees and employers. Many try to avoid it. Most performance issues get worse if they’re not dealt with as employees are often unaware they’re not performing well and so are unlikely to change anything. If not dealt with, this is unfair on the employee and their co-workers, and can have a negative effect on the business as a whole because it can affect the productivity and performance of the entire workplace.
Try to reframe the performance issue into an opportunity to grow performance. If managers can tell themselves that they’re working with their employee to assist them to reach their potential, rather than manage their poor performance, then the process will be more positive for all.
The processes are more effective in organisations with clear policies and procedures in place which encourage ongoing feedback and working through performance issues early on. It is important that all employees know the process so there are no surprises later.
In some cases, informal meetings, development and support are not effective in raising an employee’s performance to the required standard. If this happens you will need to consider a more formal approach.
When ongoing feedback and discussion is encouraged in an open and supportive environment, growing and managing performance becomes a more positive activity.
Employment New Zealand