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Manage your employee's poor performance with this one procedure

by , 26 February 2015
One of your employees is a poor performer. And you know you can't just fire him. After all, if you do, an unfair dismissal claim will land you at the CCMA faster than you can say 'you're fired'.

You first need to counsel your employee and help him identify ways to improve his performance so he can become productive again. But how?

Read on to discover the counselling procedure you must follow so you can manage your employee's poor performance better.

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Here's the four-step counselling procedure you must follow to manage your employee's poor performance

1. Prepare how you'll conduct the counselling session
Schedule a meeting with your employee so he knows in advance what the meeting is about.
Prepare your notes, documents and pick a quiet office where you'll have privacy so you can practice ahead of time what you're going to say and how.
Also prepare how you'll deal with your employee's reaction. Some employees react angrily when you tell them they're performing badly.
2. Conduct the counselling session
When your employee comes for the counselling session, put him at ease with positive opening statements. Explain the reasons for the meeting and tell him he'll have a chance to respond.
The Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service says that, during the session, you must:
  • Give him examples to show him where his performance isn't up to scratch;
  • Make sure he knows what to do next and give him all the resources he needs to improve;
  • Make sure he understands the kind of performance you expect from him going forward;
  • Allow him to raise any issues he has;
  • Find out if personal problems, health problems, or any other issues are affecting his work;
  • Discuss and agree on how to fix problems. Be sure to identify training and any support requirements he might need;
  • Document the discussion. Include all areas of concern, his views, the time you agree on for him to improve and the plan; and
  • Get your employee to sign the plan and give him a copy for his personal records.
3. Monitor and evaluate your employee's improvement
Your employee must have time to implement the actions you both agree on. So give him reasonable time to improve. A reasonable amount of time depends on the type of work your employee does.
During this time, keep an eye on his performance. Schedule regular meetings and take steps to help him achieve his goals.
4. Terminate or escalate the process
If, after a reasonable amount of time, there's no improvement in your employee's performance, start the incapacity process so you can dismiss him for his inability to do the job.
At this stage, you have to prove your employee's performance is still unacceptable even though you went through the correct steps. And that's why you're now following the incapacity process.
Bear in mind that following the incapacity process doesn't mean you can dismiss your employee right away – that would still be unfair dismissal. You must explore ways to solve the problem and only use dismissal as the last resort.
The Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service covers the A to Z of the incapacity process – be sure to check it out.

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