childHR Performance Management

A step-by-step guide to dealing with underperformance

Raising your concerns with an employee about underperformance can be difficult – especially if the person is a long-term member of your team or well liked by the children under your service care.

But, in today’s competitive market place, you can’t afford for your staff to not carry out their responsibilities correctly. The potential risk is too high.

After sitting down together and going through these seven steps, hopefully the employee takes what you’ve said on board and their performance improves. If not, here is some advice on how to minimise the risk of an unfair dismissal claim.

1. Have a conversation that is direct, firm, but polite

In this discussion you should explain to the employee what your company’s expectations are of the employee, and how that person is not achieving those targets, KPIs or standards of performance.

2. Give tangible examples

Provide the employee with examples of how they are not meeting their targets, or performing satisfactorily. Giving examples of good quality work will also help the employee understand your concerns, plus it indicates the specific areas they need to improve in.

3. Offer some assistance

If feasible, offer counselling or enrol the employee in training specific to their performance needs. This helps educate, boost enthusiasm and confidence in performing the task(s).

4. Set a time frame for review

In the case of poor performance, whether you review the employee’s progress in a day, week, month or quarter, the time frame will depend on the specific issue and the particular performance area.

5. Give the employee an opportunity to discuss and respond

There might be other factors impacting on the employee’s performance such as other team members that aren’t providing the support required to complete the task, or there is a lack of resources. Remember, this process should not be a one-way conversation, but an opportunity for you both to understand the issues and attempt to resolve them.

6. Offer a support person early

If the process is moving towards formal performance management, including a possible termination, offer the employee a support person of their choice. But remember, the support person is not an advocate and should not be permitted to advocate on the employee’s behalf.

7. After the discussion, confirm it in writing

This is a crucial step which shouldn’t be ignored.

Remember, there’s no ‘one-size fits all’ approach to performance management. Each case should address the unique circumstances, subject to compliance with your company’s policies, procedures and enterprise agreement (if any).