Sometimes you may need to manage an employee’s poor performance in the
workplace with the aim of bringing the employee’s performance up to the
Most managers find performance management confronting
and difficult and tend to “put it off”. Many are concerned about the risk of a
bullying complaint or a stress claim. Generally, an employee’s performance
will further decline if you do nothing so it’s important to act.
you engage in “reasonable management action in a reasonable manner”, you will
be able to defend any bullying or workers compensation claim that might arise.
“Reasonable management action” includes performance management where the
employee is not performing to your expectations, taken “in a reasonable
manner” means that you should deal professionally and politely with the
relevant employee. You should not, for example, yell at the employee, micro
manage the employee or insist on unreasonable performance standards.
far as possible, you should actively manage an employee’s poor performance
when performance issues arise rather than waiting for the annual performance
review or another regular meeting. You should speak with your employee on an
informal basis about his or her performance. If your discussions are ignored
or become more regular, you may need to think about formal performance
The steps below are relevant for the formal performance
management of an employee. The information below is general. You should review
the employee’s contract, your policies and procedures and any other documents
setting out terms and conditions of employment to ensure they are consistent
with the information below. If not, you should follow your own specific
Organise a formal performance
management meeting. You should let the employee know what the meeting is about
and tell the employee they can bring a support person if they wish. You should
arrange a meeting away in a quiet location where other employees will not
You may wish to have a witness at the meeting also. Your
witness can take notes of the matters discussed during the meeting.
During the formal performance management meeting, you
should speak with the employee about your performance concerns (for example,
repeated inappropriate communication with patients or providing the wrong
medical information to patients).
During this discussion, you
- let the employee know your performance concerns;
- tell the employee what you expect of them – be reasonable and be as
specific as possible;
- give the employee a timeframe in which to
improve their performance;
- ask the employee if they have anything to
say about the concerns you have raised and properly consider anything that they
- offer training and support that may be required to assist the
employee to improve their performance;
- let the employee know the
consequences if their performance does not improve (for example, they may be
- if appropriate, let them know that you intend to provide
a written warning.
meeting, you should:
- make a detailed file note of the meeting –
signed by those attending the meeting;
- confirm the content of your
discussion (including any written warning) in writing including any action the
employee is required to take to improve their performance. You may wish to
enclose a performance management plan;
- provide any necessary
additional training or support to enable the employee to perform in accordance
with your expectations; and
- continue to monitor the employee’s
performance and provide immediate feedback in the event of poor performance.
You may wish to make a file note of your discussions.
You should organise a further meeting at the end of
the review period.
If the employee’s performance has improved, you
should end the formal performance management process but continue to monitor
the employee’s performance on an informal basis and provide immediate feedback
if issues arise.
You should repeat Step 2 if there is no or not enough
improvement in the employee’s performance and provide a further opportunity for
them to improve. You may need to repeat Step 1 on several occasions depending
on the issue and the content of the warning letter.
If you reach the point that you consider it appropriate to terminate the
employee’s employment, you should seek advice before taking further action. In
broad summary, you should then:
- ensure you have a valid reason for
the termination related to the employee’s capacity or conduct;
the employee the reason you intend to dismiss them;
- give the employee
an opportunity to respond to your intention to dismiss him or her and properly
consider the response;
- ensure the employee is aware of their right to
have a support person in any meetings about their dismissal and allow such a
support person if requested;
- confirm the dismissal in writing.