START: You will have Set Expectations with your team members about behaviour that supports our values, principles and Code of Conduct, our performance objectives, development objectives and the other standards you expect them to meet. You will have used Feedback and possibly Coaching to help them achieve those standards. Occasionally that’s not enough and, although it may be too early for disciplinary action, you need to take a more formal approach to getting performance or behaviour back on track. Its time for a Getting performance/behaviour back on track intervention. Here’s how we suggest you do that. You need to read our Guidelines for getting performance/behaviour back on track including detailed process and Tips for each step. If in doubt – ask your manager or P&C. Note: If these issues arise during the first 90 days of employment discuss them with HR. If the employee has a 90 day trial period and you wish to terminate employment during that period this termination (including the notice period) must be completed within the 90 days.
1. An employee won’t fix a problem they don’t accept exists or won’t take responsibility for fixing. So before talking to the employee assemble enough; facts, examples, proof of the issue to convince them change is necessary. Use our TIPS and our conversation plan to prepare for and plan the conversation including assembling your evidence and deciding your approach. (Note: The CCARERS question list may help you consider possible causes and select questions to explore the problem with the employee). Arrange a meeting in a quiet setting. This isn’t a disciplinary issue so they don’t need a support person. If they want one – no problem. If disciplinary action becomes a potential outcome later in the conversation (as you learn more about why they aren’t performing) the employee must be told and given the opportunity to have support or representation. For background on the legal risks and how to manage them see ‘What are our legal risks?’
2. Use our TIPS and our conversation plan . Open by explaining the purpose of the meeting then lay out your evidence there is a problem they need to address. Often it pays to put the conversation in context with praise for their past record (if appropriate) or other strengths. Focus your ‘criticism’ on the performance or behaviour not of the person. Most people will accept that they make mistakes but not that they are ‘a mistake’. Be prepared for a shocked or defensive response or even denial. Our first instinct is often to deny or counter attack when we feel attacked. Give them clear evidence and, if necessary, time to digest it (an overnight break is often a good idea). Explain the consequences (for all concerned) of not solving the issue. This helps them put the problem in perspective. e.g. if a continuation may impact their promotion chances, performance appraisal and salary review – say so. Ask for their explanation. Listen carefully. Explore possible causes and contributing factors. Challenge their explanation where you doubt it. Don’t negotiate down your standards. If you hear some explanation you are unsure of, take time to investigate before dismissing or accepting it. When you’ve diagnosed the issue you can choose how to address it.
‘Can’t DO issue’. If you accept the employee ‘can’t do’ what it takes to deliver expected performance due to lack of skill, resource, tools, support, time etc etc continue the GPBOT conversation to put a plan in place to turn things around..
‘What’s the core issue? The point where you’ve heard their explanation is the crossroads in the conversation. Typically the problem will be either a ‘can’t do’ (lack of tools, time, training, information, support, health or personal problem, problematic relationships etc) or a ‘won’t do’ problem (lack of commitment, protest, carelessness, lack of effort, diligence etc). In the case of ‘won’t do’ problems you should talk with HR about initiating disciplinary action or issuing a reprimand of some sort. See our typical remedies for some ideas.
‘Won’t DO issue’ If you conclude it is a ‘won’t do’ problem where the employee is capable but not inclined to deliver to the required standard then you need to consider how serious it is and whether they will quickly commit to improving. If not then it may be time to change to our Disciplinary Process.
‘Agree a turnaround plan.’. Make sure in the GPBOT conversation you both fully understand what caused the unacceptable performance. Then ask if the employee agrees the need for improvement. (Note: without that commitment nothing will change). Once you have their commitment to change, agree what needs to change, how the change will happen, by when and how you will both monitor progress. Use our turnaround plan to capture that detail. When building the plan start by asking for their ideas. Agree how you will monitor improvement. Ask for their commitment to the plan, express confidence the situation can be fixed. End on a positive note. [Note: If they don’t agree to the level of improvement you require reiterate; the case for change, consequences of not changing (including potentially disciplinary action) and then give them some time to reconsider].
‘Issue fixed?’As you monitor the agreed turnaround plan use some of our TIPS for monitoring progress and maintaining momentum.
‘Explore reasons. Consider a formal PIP’. Monitor the turnaround. If you aren’t seeing the change you require explore the reasons with them and be firm that you expect better. You may need to up the stakes by putting in place a formal Performance Improvement Plan making it clear that if the required improvement isn’t achieved in a defined period disciplinary action will follow. If it’s a ‘won’t do’ then its probably time to commence disciplinary action.
‘Reprimand or informal warning’ A reprimand isn’t a formal warning but makes clear that a disciplinary process will be the next step if the problem persists or recurs. Make sure you diarise this reprimand’ for future reference.
‘Issue Fixed’. Occasionally you get a relapse where either the original problem recurs or other problems surface which suggest the employees underlying attitude is not good. See our TIPS if the problem persists for advice and options to handle these situations.
‘Minor or out of character’. If the lapse is minor or out of character you wouldn’t take disciplinary action but a firm reprimand may do the job (make a diary note)
Sometimes, despite everyone’s efforts supporting the turnaround plan, the employee can’t reach the required standards. Talk to P&C. The likely result is either that a disciplinary action is begun or a carefully managed discussion takes place with the employee about either transferring to another role in which they can succeed or about leaving the business by mutual agreement.
‘Issue Fixed?’ If the issue isn’t fixed and its a ‘won’t do’ then you need to progress quickly through the disciplinary process. Sometimes, despite everyone’s efforts the employee can’t reach the required standards. Talk to P&C and your manager. The likely result is either that a disciplinary action is begun or a carefully managed discussion takes place with the employee about either transferring to another role in which they can succeed or about leaving the business by mutual agreement.