– Best Practice guide – Managing underperformance
Working at best practice
Employers who work at best practice benefit from motivated staff that are performing at their best. These employers also understand that when issues concerning underperformance are not addressed and managed both appropriately and sensitively, it can lead to unhealthy and unproductive outcomes that may affect the entire workplace.
This Best Practice Guide helps explain what is meant by underperformance and why this happens. It sets out an easy to follow five-step plan to help employers and employees address and manage issues about underperformance.
There is also a checklist to assist best practice employers.
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What are the reasons for underperformance?
There are many reasons why an employee may perform poorly. Some of the common reasons include:
· an employee doesn’t know what is expected because goals and/or standards or workplace policies and consequences are not clear (or have not been set)
· interpersonal differences
· there is a mismatch between an employee’s capabilities and the job they are required to undertake, or the employee does not have the knowledge or skills to do the job expected of them
· an employee does not know whether they are doing a good job because there is no counselling or feedback on their performance
· lack of personal motivation, low morale in the workplace and/or poor work environment
· personal issues such as family stress, physical and/or mental health problems or problems with drugs or alcohol
· cultural misunderstandings
· workplace bullying.
Underperformance should be dealt with promptly and appropriately by an employer, as employees are often unaware they are not performing well and so are unlikely to change their performance. Best practice employers understand that issues that are not addressed promptly also have the potential to become more serious over time. This can have a negative effect on the business as a whole as it can affect the productivity and performance of the entire workplace.
Dealing with underperformance can be challenging and confronting for employees and employers alike, but it does need to be addressed. Managers need clear procedures, organisational support and the courage and willingness to manage the issue.
Provide training to managers on how to handle underperformance issues. It may be helpful to include role play workshops in the training material so that managers can learn how to approach matters in real-life scenarios. Well trained managers are better able to identify and address issues of underperformance.
If performance problems arise, it is crucial that they be resolved early. The longer that poor performance is allowed to continue, the more difficult a satisfactory resolution becomes, and the more the overall credibility of the system may suffer.
Not every underperformance issue needs a structured process. Explore other options for improving performance, such as the use of continuous feedback.
Remember that for performance management to be successful, the culture of the business should be one which encourages ongoing feedback and discussion about performance issues in open and supportive environments.
How to manage underperformance
A clear system for managing underperformance is good for both a business and its employees.
Best practice employers are aware that ineffective performance management can dramatically reduce the level of performance in a workplace. Employees that perform well can lose motivation if they have to carry the burden of poor performing colleagues. Also, most employees who are not performing well would like to improve.