Raising the topic of under performance. It’s challenging for some employers. It shouldn’t be.

When you call a tradesperson to your home to fix something and it’s not fixed properly, it’s not difficult to call the tradesperson back – it’s just a phone call and a quick request that they return.

Managing an employee’s underperformance is much the same thing – the difficulty or awkwardness comes from the longer term relationship being more long term and a little more personal.

Say that same plumber is on a retainer – and is expected to come to your property every week and monitor all of your external plumbing issues and he doesn’t show or doesn’t check all of them. Now we have a stronger parallel. You would either cease that service and look for someone more reliable – or you would have a discussion about what your expectations were (usually an easier solution).

That is exactly what you must do with your employees, only there must be a paper trail associated with the discussion to make it super clear what was agreed.

When you have the situation of having an employee in your business who is under performing for any reason, you need to consider all the factors that may have contributed to the under performance.

  • Were you not clear about what was expected
  • Were there resources required that have not been made available
  • Is there a knowledge gap – is training required
  • Is there a roadblock that the employee was not comfortable about coming forward about

The best way to uncover any of these issues is simply to call a meeting in the initial instance and ask the employee in a non confrontational manner if any of the above apply.

The employee will usually either tell you what the problem is or will let you know that the problem is with them. Most people know when they are being slack, whether or not they oversold themselves or whether there is an issue in the workplace preventing them from stepping up to the required standard – this is the true benefit in setting performance standards and position descriptions at the outset of the employment.

The thing with employees is that the more clear you are with them on what your expectations are, and the more resource and roadblock clearing you are able to provide for them – the higher the performance is likely to be. People like to please and to be recognised for performance. Regular catchups with your employees will allow you to be abreast of any progress hindrances well before they become problematic – and also reduce the risk of an escalation. Being called to a performance management meeting is stressful for an employee, but a regular catchup is something they will look forward to and plan for.

All employee meetings require documentation and the process for underperformance is particularly important. HR Docs templates on this topic can be viewed here https://hrdocs.co.nz/training-and-performance-document-templates/

The law requires you identify an under performance and to work proactively and positively with the employee concerned to rectify the situation by enabling additional training and instruction on standards required. It’s a sensible law – people respond positively to the process because you are not introducing a threat or any level of fear. Instead, you are allowing the employee to see a well lit path of expectation.

Both employee and employer should be on the same page through this process – and the process itself should be as transparent as possible. If you travel through an underperformance situation with the presumption that the employee wishes to step up you are likely to win their loyalty and respect – as well as an enhanced performance.

In the situation where you have made a bad hire and the employee in question simply is not able or willing to step up – the next move (ending employment) becomes much less stressful for both parties.

Finally on the topic of under-performance – always remember where there might occasionally be poor performance in your team, if you have completed your reference checking https://hrdocs.co.nz/?s=reference+checking  correctly and followed a robust recruitment process https://hrdocs.co.nz/recruitment/  – there will be only good people in the business, so it is more likely that the problem lies with the direction and support you have given the employee than with the person.

For more information on HR processes required for running your business with productive employees without risk of oversight or risk of grievance, view this FREE webinar: