A simple definition of unsatisfactory job performance is a gap between the employee’s actual performance and the level of performance required by your business.
There are three basic types of poor performance:
- Unsatisfactory work content — in terms of quantity, quality, etc;
- Breaches of work practices, procedures and rules — such as breaching work health and safety requirements, excessive absenteeism, theft, harassment of other employees, etc; and
- Employees’ personal problems — usually ‘off-the-job’ issues that affect their performance at work.
The performance management process should be able to identify these problems. The performance management interview and feedback processes can discuss the problems to diagnose the causes and explore possible remedies, such as job redesign, training or counselling.
Your starting point is to ask the following standard questions:
- What actually is the performance ‘gap’?
- How large is the gap?
- Is it increasing?
- What are the consequences of that gap?
- How serious are they?
- Has the employee’s performance been acceptable in the past?
- Does the employee have the skills required to perform the job?
- If not, is he/she capable of obtaining and using the skills?
- In general, is the employee capable of performing the job?
- How important to the employee is performing the job well?
- Does the employee benefit in some way from unsatisfactory performance (eg trying to prove a point, having a hidden agenda, undermining someone else, trying to orchestrate a payout or redundancy, etc)?
- Are there any barriers to performance within the employee’s control?
- Are there barriers within the organisation’s control (such as resources issues, communication problems, recruitment, training, job descriptions, etc)?
- What is required to remove these barriers?
- Is it feasible to do it?