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How effective is your performance management 

Monday, 18th August 2014, by Loran McDougall

In today's Workplace Bulletin:
  • Step-by-Step: How to effectively manage performance issues
Dear Reader,

Performance management is an integral part of any business. It involves evaluating and managing an employee’s performance to ensure that it is consistent with both the objectives of your business and the goals and standards of the employee.

Not only can performance management help you decrease poor employee performance and maintain or progress good performance, it can help protect you against unfair dismissal claims.
How? If you follow procedure when dealing with performance issues, employees will have a harder time claiming that your performance management constitutes:
  • unreasonable management action, i.e. action not carried out fairly, justly or transparently;
  • workplace bullying;
  • payback for a matter unrelated to performance that breaches the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) general protections provisions, e.g. the employee having made a complaint or inquiry about their employment.
To reap these benefits, it helps to have a good performance management procedure in place – one that takes a consistent approach, develops effective solutions and is known, accepted and valued by your employees.
It is also important that your performance management procedure exists within a supportive workplace culture that encourages open and ongoing feedback and discussion.
If you find that your employees are underperforming, lack motivation and have negative attitudes towards performance management, you should consider reviewing your performance management procedure.
Today, Charles Power will take you through what any good performance management procedure should cover.
Until next time,
Jessica Oldfield
Loran McDougall
Workplace Bulletin
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Step-by-Step: How to effectively manage 

performance issues

by Charles Power
Editor-in-Chief, Employment Law Practical Handbook
Your performance management procedure should include ways to:
  • identify performance standards;
  • set goals for employees;
  • give feedback and performance reviews to employees;
  • provide opportunities for further training or education;
  • reward employees who perform well;
  • counsel employees who do not perform well;
  • discipline employees if poor performance or conduct is unacceptable or continuing.
Annual performance reviews are common, but remember:
  • if a performance issue arises, you should deal with it as soon as possible – do not wait until the next scheduled performance review; and
  • do not state in an employment contract that you will review performance annually (or within any specific timeframe), as failing to conduct reviews as per the contract will leave any dismissals open to legal challenge.
When dealing with performance issues, follow these steps:
  1. Identify and evaluate the problem
Be specific when identifying the performance issue, and consider the reason behind the underperformance. For example, is the employee:
  • dealing with personal issues;
  • unclear on the job requirements;
  • experiencing a management issue; or
  • unhappy in the work environment.
Evaluate how serious the problem is, and how long it has been going on for.
  1. Discuss the issue with the employee
Organise a meeting to openly discuss the issue with the employee. Notify them of the meeting’s purpose in advance and allow them to bring a support person if they wish.
Explain to the employee why their performance is unsatisfactory and the outcome you wish to achieve from the meeting.
Make sure you give the employee an opportunity to respond and that you consider what they have to say.
  1. Develop a solution
With the employee, identify:
  • what is needed to improve their performance, e.g. further training; and
  • the timeframe in which improvement should reasonably occur.
Develop a performance management (or improvement) plan. The plan should include:
  • goals;
  • the timeframe;
  • actions to be taken; and
  • the roles and responsibilities of you and the employee.
  1. Monitor the employee’s progress
Monitor the employee’s progress and provide them with feedback.
Whether the employee’s performance has improved or not, meet to discuss the employee’s performance. This will allow you to either acknowledge that the performance issue has been resolved, or to take further steps if it has not.
  1. Issue written warnings
If the performance issue has not been resolved, provide the employee with a written warning that states:
  • what is expected; and
  • the consequences if the employee does not satisfactorily improve, e.g. further performance management or dismissal.
If the issue is not resolved following the written warning, you may issue the employee with a final warning. This warning should clearly explain to the employee that, if their performance does not improve, their employment will be terminated.
  1. Dismiss the employee
If the performance issue is not resolved following steps 1–5, you may need to dismiss the employee.
When dismissing an employee, remember to:
  • explain your reasons for dismissal;
  • give the employee an opportunity to respond; and
  • allow the employee to bring a support person to the meeting.
Charles Power
Charles Power

Employment Law Practical Handbook

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