BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Confronting poor performance

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Dealing with an employee that fails to meet your expectations is a difficult but important task. While all managers would love to have staff that consistently meet and exceed expectations of performance, this is simply not the reality for most. A good manager, however, is able to effectively deal with the issue of a poorly performing employee in a way that can have a positive outcome. The best way to approach to confronting performance issues is to come from a place of understanding, whilst maintaining firmness. Below are some tips to make this process run a little smoother for everyone.

Before

In the lead up to the meeting it is important to be well prepared. To do this, ask yourself the following questions.

  • How do I want to deal with this?
  • What outcome do I want?
  • Do I need more information?

Once you have answered these questions you should have a clear idea of the purpose of the meeting and how you think the problem could be resolved.

Be prepared for the person you are confronting to be upset. It is never easy to be told you are not doing well enough. There may well be anger or even tears, so it’s best that you think about how you will respond to these reactions.

During

There are a few things you can do during the meeting to make it a little easier for everyone. Turn off your phone or leave it in another room, and make sure there are no interruptions. Hold the meeting in a private space, somewhere you can close the door and not be interrupted.

While you are in the meeting it is very important that once you have described the issue as you see it that you sit back and listen to the person talk. Let them explain their side of the story. While you are doing this, pay attention to your body language and really listen!

It may be useful to ask some follow up questions to really understand what is going on. Below are some questions that will help you get a clear picture of the underlying issues and potential actions to remedy the poor performance.

  • What more would you like to say?
  • How do you think we got here? Why?
  • What stopped you from take action sooner?
  • How can I help you?
  • Where do you think we can go from here?

These questions should help you get to the bottom of the issues. Be aware that the poor performance may be a result of factors outside the workplace over which you have no control. Your purpose is to determine what can be changed in the workplace.

After

Your actions following the meeting are vital in maintaining amicable relationships. Be clear about what the next step is by putting the agreed actions in writing. Maintain open, friendly communication with the employee. Don’t tell anyone who doesn’t need to know what is happening. Be respectful of the person’s privacy and wishes.

If it is decided that the best course of action is to terminate the employee, be sure to check that it is a fair dismissal. You should check your obligations by thoroughly reading the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code and checklist.

Confronting poor performance is never a pleasant experience for anyone, but these tips can help you manage it effectively whilst maintaining respectfulness and a positive attitude.

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