First let’s establish what underperformance is, as it is not to be confused with misconduct.
Definition of underperformance:
Not following workplace policies and procedures
Below standard work performance
Disruptive behaviour in the workplace, negative comments about fellow employees and the business itself
Anti-social behaviour in the workplace, for example telling inappropriate joke
Misconduct occurs when an employee:
Causes serious and imminent risk to the health and safety of another person or the reputation and profits of their employer’s business or,
Deliberately behaves in a manner that, is inconsistent with their continuing employment.
Fraud, theft, assault, intoxication at work and refusing to carry out reasonable and lawful directions.
Prevention of under-performance :
Develop a performance management policy outlining the definition, management and consequences of underperformance. This ensures your team understands and acknowledges what is expected of them and the consequences of underperformance.
Position descriptions are a great way to establish expectations up front.
Ensure the employee knows what is expected by listing the key outcomes and behaviours you consider essential to their role.
Conduct regular checks as to performance to avoid bad habits being established and poor performance taking its toll. Monthly are ideal and enables an assessment of any issues or concerns.
Underperforming employees often do not improve regardless of the steps taken to improve their position
Therefore, it is essential to have the discussion with the employee to explain how they are not performing as per their contract of employment.
Ask the employee what is happening and what is causing the issue.
This exercise should be conducted in a place where the employee is free to talk and have a support person with them if they so request, following your advice as to their rights accordingly.
Listening is key to this process as once the discussion identifies the reasons or influencing factors behind the underperformance it is essential to form an agreed performance plan
Document what was said and agreed between the parties and have both parties acknowledge same.
Implement the agreed plan and monitor performance providing assistance if required.
In years gone by companies would terminate such employees but in today’s workplace environment a rash decision can be very costly through a successful unfair dismissal claim.
However, if the steps are followed the risks of such are significantly minimised particularly given the employee has acknowledged your process and your availability to provide support and assistance.
Termination is a last resort in these matters.