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UpdatesJan 29, 2014

How to counsel an employee for poor performance

It can be difficult dealing with an employee who is underperforming. The most important thing you need to remember is not to jump straight to disciplinary action like dismissal.

By Charles Power

[Ed Note: It can be difficult dealing with an employee who is underperforming. The most important thing you need to remember is not to jump straight to disciplinary action like dismissal. Instead, you need to give the employee an opportunity to improve their performance. This entails counselling the employee to advise them that their performance isn’t up to scratch and to set out a plan for improvement. Today, Charles Power will explain how to go about counselling an employee for poor performance.]

When an employee’s performance is poor and needs improvement, you should do the following things:

1. Investigate the matter further

Investigate the issues before meeting with the employee so you can be sure of the facts. This may mean that you speak to other managers, employees and witnesses.

2. Hold a private meeting with the employee

Hold the session in private and retain a record of the discussions (this could be recorded in a diary).

Do not make the discussion a casual conversation. Counselling is a focused discussion that is meant to clearly show the nature of your expectations

Be specific in your comments, e.g. ‘It is not appropriate to clean the roller on a machine while it is moving’, rather than general, e.g. ‘You need to clean the rollers properly’.

Allow the employee to respond, and take their comments into account.

Focus your recorded comments on the employee’s conduct, rather than the employee as a person.

3. Develop a performance management plan

A performance management plan (sometimes called a performance improvement plan) is a document that outlines the performance goals an employer expects their employee to achieve. These can include health and safety objectives.

The purpose of a performance management plan is to:

3.Develop the plan with the employee and keep a copy in the employee’s file.

If employee performance is handled correctly, problems are recognised and solved early and the need for disciplinary action is eliminated or reduced.

4. Set a review date for following up

Your performance management plan should identify further dates for reviewing the employee’s progress.

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