Despite an effective appraisal system and the opportunities you provide for your staff to develop their skills, some people for various reasons underperform. Underperformance is not the same as misconduct. Misconduct is very serious behaviour which could lead to instant dismissal. Unsatisfactory performance can be displayed as a failure to complete the duties of a position to the standard required, or as a breach of policies or procedures or as behaviour that is not acceptable in the workplace.  Unsatisfactory performance should be dealt with quickly and appropriately.

Dealing with performance problems promptly, whatever the cause, is crucial because the longer it is left unmanaged, the harder it is to find a positive solution and the more impact it will have across the organisation. If dealt with promptly, simply giving clear and supportive feedback on a regular basis can be all that is needed to lift underperformance to a satisfactory level.

But sometimes a more formal and systematic approach is required. The steps below outline a systematic approach that can be used to manage underperformance.

  1. Prepare for a meeting with the staff member. Gather clear information about the performance issue.
  2. Inform staff member of the need for a meeting.
  3. Meet with the staff member and discuss performance. Clearly outline the problem, listen to their explanation and agree on actions to address the problem.
  4. Make a date for follow up meetings.
  5. Prepare minutes of first meeting and get all parties to sign as an accurate representation of the meeting.
  6. Conduct follow up meetings and review progress.
  7. If performance has improved and issue is resolved, give clear feedback and communicate that the issue is finalised.
  8. If performance is unsatisfactory provide clear feedback, determine clear set of actions and issue formal warning letters.

For more information about managing performance take a look at our Get Smart with Great Staff guide on performance appraisal.

Further information and sample termination letters can also be found on the Fairwork website.