HR On-Demand Question Of The Month

HR On-Demand Question Of The Month

My staff member is underperforming, what do I do?

When a staff member is under performing, it is important to act swiftly.  Problems ignored and left to fester do not resolve themselves, and often get a lot worse and harder to manage.  Nipping them in the bud is the best course of action.

In the ideal situation you are already keeping an eye on the performance of employees in your team and meeting with them regularly to give feedback on their performance through the business -as-usual annual performance appraisal cycle.  Where you identify an under performer through this process the first step is to speak with the staff member informally, drawing to their attention the expected level of performance and where they are falling short.  Offer them your counsel and support to enable them to improve their performance.  Make a diary note of the discussion just in case you need to show that this step was taken down the track.

If they do not lift their performance to the expected level, your next course of action will be to launch a formal disciplinary process and put in place a performance improvement plan.  Your HR On-Demand membership gives you access to templates to use throughout this formal disciplinary process as well as real time phone based coaching with our team.  The broad outline of the process for a formal disciplinary meeting is as follows:

  1. Check your internal policy to make sure you follow the process set out
  2. Give the staff member at least 24 hours notice of the formal meeting and inform them they can bring along a support person
  3. Explain the expected performance level, where they are falling short of this and the impact upon the business
  4. Give the employee the opportunity to respond (note their explanation)
  5. Decide whether a formal warning letter is warranted – issue the warning letter if appropriate.
  6. Put in place a formal performance improvement plan and set review dates

There is no specific requirement in the legislation to give 1, 2 or 3 warning prior to termination.  However the termination must not be unjust, harsh or unfair or the staff member may be able to raise an unfair dismissal claim.  For this reason it is prudent to give the staff member multiple warnings so as to give the employee fair chance to reach the expected level of performance.

Managing underperforming staff members can be fraught and mismanagement could cost your business money and time in defending an unfair dismissal claim ultimately to see the staff members employment reinstated.  Reach out to your HR On-Demand team for support throughout this process on 1300 55 99 62 or via hrondemand@talentcodehr.com.au and manage it the right way from the outset.

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