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5 Crucial steps to take before you dismiss a poor performer after probation

by , 09 November 2015
Jane, your new employee is currently on 3 months' probation. Since joining your company, she hasn't met any of her deadlines and her performance isn't up to scratch.

You then decide you'll dismiss her as soon her probation ends.

Before you dismiss her, make sure you take these 5 crucial steps to avoid an unfair dismissal case at the CCMA.

Keep reading below...

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Get rid of your poor performer without landing at the CCMA!
You can't afford to have poor performers in your company. But you also can't afford to be taken to the cleaners at the CCMA for dismissing incorrectly!

Find out how you to LEGALLY get rid of poor performers here.

Follow these 5 steps before dismissing a poor performer after probation

Step #1: Meet and discuss the problems
Arrange a meeting with your employee to fully discuss the problems. It doesn't have to be a formal meeting, but you must give her some notice. Identify the problem areas and find out what's causing her behaviour. If it's a personal problem, try to see what assistance you can provide, either through the company's internal assistance programmes or an external professional.

Step #2: Evaluate the employee's performance
Don't let the matter slide. If you've agreed to review her performance in one month, you must carry out a formal evaluation and give feedback to the employee during the period and at the agreed time a month later.

If her performance improves enough, then meet with the employee to let her know that she's met the required standards and her next evaluation will be part of the normal performance management process. If it hasn't improved, you'll then need to have a second counselling meeting with her.

Step #3: Provide counselling to the employee
The second meeting should be a more formal meeting. Confirm the meeting in writing and arrange for a facilitator. Advise the employee that she can bring a representative to the meeting. Make sure she understands that the meeting isn't a disciplinary enquiry and that its purpose is to reach agreement on solving his performance issues. Unlike a disciplinary enquiry there's no need to have witnesses or provide evidence.

Step #4: Carry out the evaluation
You must carry out an evaluation after a reasonable amount of time to ensure her performance has in fact improved enough. Agree on this time period with your employee. Make sure the other employees whose work was affected by the poor performance are co-operating with the employee's attempts to improve.

Step #5: The final meeting
The time it takes to determine that the employee will not achieve her previous levels of performance will differ depending on the effect her lack of performance has on the business. As time goes by and the employee continues to fail, inevitably there'll be a break down in trust on both sides of the employment relationship. The employee will feel she's being micro-managed and may feel that this is unfair (not a logical response) and you'll lose patience with both the employee and the lack of progress.

If her performance doesn't improve, but you can't prove misconduct, then you need to hold a third meeting to agree that she hasn't implemented the solutions. Discuss her continued employment and reach a final solution. This is never an easy discussion and is best done with the assistance of an objective person facilitating the meeting.

If you both agree, the employment relationship should terminate and you must ensure both parties agree to the terms of the termination and you put it in writing.

Even if you don't both agree this doesn't mean you can't dismiss the employee for incapacity, as long as you've provided training and guidance and given her reasonable time to improve and she hasn't. You must also follow the correct procedure.

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