Posted on: May 08, 2015

For organisations to achieve their goals, they must manage people and performance effectively.  

Performance management brings together the organisation’s goals and strategies, its human resources policies and practices, and all the elements of good people management and employee communication — integrating them into an organisation-wide process for planning, managing, reviewing, rewarding and developing people and their performance.

Performance management is different from performance appraisals.

While they are two totally separate processes with very different outcomes, a poor performance appraisal may prompt the commencement of a performance management process, so there may be some link between the two. The performance appraisal process may also assist by providing KPI’s and objectives that the employee is expected to meet, which is often incorporated into a performance improvement plan that is set during the performance management process.

Employers are required to follow their own established policies and procedures.

Many employers will have their own performance management process prescribed in a policy and/or steps identified in the employment agreement, in which case this must be adhered to. However, in the absence of any prescribed policy or contractual obligation, we recommend the best practice process outlined below for effective and fair performance management.

Step One – Initial informal meeting

Arrange an informal performance management meeting. This meeting is about presenting the employers concerns and gaining feedback from the employee.

Here’s some tips for the meeting:

  • Be specific about the shortfalls in performance
  • Identify ways of assisting the employee to lift their performance (e.g. offer further training, one-on-one coaching etc)
  • Approach the meeting in a fair and constructive way, and avoid using threatening or intimidating language
  • The goal is that both parties gain an understanding of each other’s positions, concerns, and expectations and a pathway forward.

Develop an action plan:

  • Assign timeframes for each task
  • Tasks need to be measureable and agreed upon by both parties
  • Make it clear that failure to meet the tasks within the set timeframes may result in progressive disciplinary action that could eventually result in termination of employment
  • Set up regular progress meetings so the employee can be monitored and assisted

As with all processes that impact the conditions of an employee’s employment you should provide the employee an opportunity to give comments and make suggestions. It is not necessary that they agree with the performance management process or the goals they are expected to achieve, but it is important they can raise any issues they may have and be included in the process.

This meeting should be followed up in writing, and noted on the employee’s file as a ‘counselling session’.

Step Two – Formal meetings

If the employee has improved their performance to an acceptable standard, inform them of this achievement. Obviously, there will be no need for a formal performance management meeting. One option is to continue with the ‘action plan’ and utilise it (without the consequence of disciplinary action) as a career development tool for the individual to continue to improve.

If the employee has not improved, or fails to meet objectives within the set timeframes, you will need to formally invite the employee to a disciplinary meeting based on performance. This letter will need to state the potential for disciplinary action as an outcome of the meeting (contact Paul Diver Associates regarding the specific letter content). At this meeting review the action plan and reset timeframes. Reasons why the performance has not improved should be explored to see if the employer could assist further in remedying the situation.

Repeat the formal meeting process until performance improves or termination results as a consequence of on-going poor performance.

A minimum three-strike process is recommended.

For a termination for poor performance to be justifiable, it needs to be substantively and procedurally fair.

As a minimum, this usually requires at least a ‘three strike’ process (over and above the initial ‘informal counselling’ session):

  1. A formal verbal warning
  2. A final written warning
  3. Dismissal

Dismissal for performance must also be on notice unless it is a serious non-performance/negligence issue, which may justify summary termination of employment.

Remember that every situation is unique.

Keep in mind that each performance management situation is going to be unique and the procedure will need to be adapted for the specific situation. We recommend that you contact us before entering a performance management procedure, and then keep us updated throughout. By doing so we will be able to assist you in ensuring a procedurally fair process and minimising your risk of a personal grievance.



Disclaimer

This article, and any information contained on our website is necessarily brief and general in nature, and should not be substituted for professional advice. You should always seek professional advice before taking any action in relation to the matters addressed.