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The dos and don'ts of dealing with a poor performance in the workplace

by , 24 April 2013
Poor Performance management is tricky. But if you have a poor performer, you need to deal with him swiftly to ensure the problem doesn't escalate and affect your business more than it needs to. That's exactly what the Bulgarian Football Union did when it banned referee Nikolay Yordanov following his poor performance in a topflight match between Levski Sofia and Litex Lovech on Saturday. But can you just fire an employee if his performance isn't up to scratch?

If your employee's performance is poor, but he's already out of his probation period, performance management becomes a more complex procedure,' says The Practical Guide to Human Resources Management.

Sometimes the reasons for the poor performance are related to problems the employee has which are outside of your control (i.e. health issues, relationship issues, and, most commonly, debt issues).

But be warned, 'you can't dismiss an employee after probation for unsatisfactory performance unless you've evaluated him and given him enough  time to rectify the situation and meet the required standard,' says The Practical Guide to Human Resources Management.

So what should you do?

Human Resources Manager and expert for the Labour and HR club, Nichola Wainright has some ideas…

Revealed: The dos and don'ts of managing your employee's poor performance in the workplace

Don't leave it too long. Make employees aware of performance issues as and when they occur. 'Don't drag your heels and hope the problem will go away. It never does, it only gets worse,' warns the Guide. 

Do evaluate an employee's performance formally every quarter. Here, set benchmarks for his performance for the next quarter and talk to him about nay performance worries you have.

Don't be vague about the issues or continually move the milestones. 'Often managers aren't clear about performance issues, particularly where employees have other personal problems. They have meetings where they say 'I think you are a wonderful worker but …….' The employee only hears the first part of that particular sentence,' writes Wainright.

Do set clear performance standards and ensure your employee is aware of them and knows what success looks like.

Don't have performance meetings with your employees spontaneously. Most of these meetings appear to be of the ''won't you come into my office a moment' type discussions. Employees typically discount these discussions,' warns Wainright.

Do make an appointment with a formal invitation at least 48 hours prior to the meeting. If possible, provide an agenda and ensure your employee is aware of what you're going to discuss with him.

Do keep minutes of all formal counselling meetings you have had. Set review dates in the minutes and ensure you have the reviews; even if it's only to say congratulations, you have met the standard. After all, you can't expect to win a case at the CCMA if you have no record of the discussions you've had with your employee about his performance.

So there you have it. Remember these simple rules so you can nip employee's poor performance in the bud before it escalates and becomes a problem you need to take the issue to a disciplinary hearing. 

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