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Five steps for dealing with incapacity due to poor work performance

by , 05 March 2015
Incapacity is an individual's inability to perform. It falls into two categories:

• Incapacity for poor work performance, and
• Incapacity because of ill-health or injury.

For the purpose of this article, we'll deal with incapacity due to poor work performance because most employers struggle to deal with it. And this often leads to them dismissing employees unfairly and landing up at the CCMA.

Don't fall into the same trap.

Read on to discover the five steps you must follow to deal with this situation...

Dealing with incapacity due to poor work performance is easy if you follow these five steps

Step 1: Investigate
If a permanent employee isn't meeting performance standards, investigate the matter. Try find out the reasons for his poor performance.
Step 2: Consider solutions other than dismissal
After your investigation, consider solutions other than dismissal.
What solutions can you consider?
You must do an evaluation. This includes training your employee and counselling him.
When you conduct an evaluation, you must:
  • Tell your employee he isn't meeting the performance targets you set;
  • Give him a chance to explain the reasons for his unsatisfactory work;
  • Find solutions on how to solve the problem; and
  • Meet with your employee regularly to see if he's improving. The evaluation should involve input from your employee and feedback from you.
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Step 3: Give your employee a chance to put forward his case
Throughout the process of investigating, evaluating and performance management, you must give your employee a chance to explain his reasons.
Let him explain why he isn't meeting the standards you require. The explanation he gives often determines the correct action for you to take.
For example, if a consistent employee underperforms for one month and he explains that it's because he's going through a divorce, he'll probably improve in the near future and you won't have to take action. If his performance doesn't improve, you have to decide if you're going to give him more time to improve or dismiss him.
This brings us to the final two steps…
Step 4: Give your employee a reasonable time to improve
What's a reasonable period for improvement?
It depends on the nature of the job. For example, a salesperson probably won't be able improve his performance if you only give him a week. A more suitable period may be a month, a quarter, or even longer in some cases.
Step 5: Consider dismissal
If, after all your efforts to help your employee to improve and giving him ample time to do so, he still doesn't perform, you can dismiss him.
You'll find the dismissal procedure to follow in the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service.
Knowing how to deal with incapacity due to poor work performance will help you make sure you never dismiss a poor performer unfairly and land up at the CCMA.
PS: There's a difference in how you deal with a permanent employee who isn't meeting performance standards and dealing with an employee on probation. To find out how to deal with an employee who's on probation, check out the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service.

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