Managing poor performance – providing feedback

This is the last in our series of posts on the issue of managing poor performance, highlighting the experience of our HR expert executive coaches, including Marg LennonPaula Liverani-Brooks and Trish Kelly. We heard from Trish last week on using a performance plan, and this week she discusses the use of the performance plan and providing feedback:

The starting point for managing poor performance is for the manager to ensure they are being objective and have a base line for managing the poor performance, that is the Performance Plan.

Trish Kelly, Executive Coach
Trish Kelly, Executive Coach

Having sought advice from their HR partner and having established there is clear and objective evidence of poor performance, the manager needs to set up a meeting with the employee. At this meeting the manager should follow these steps:

  • outline the specific issues and examples of the poor performance,
  • obtain the employee’s response,
  • clearly articulate the expectations for performance and
  • develop, in consultation with the employee, strategies and a timeline for the provision of support to improve the performance and the processes and timeline to measure improvement.

Managers should also provide the employee with information about broad support programs such as Employee Assistance Programs.

At the conclusion of each meeting, the manager should document the actions, agreements and issues from the meeting and provide these to the employee.

This can be a lonely and difficult process for the manager. The manager needs to remain professional throughout this process and ensure the feedback provided is objective and based on the performance expectations.

It is important for the manager to continue to work closely with their HR partner, discussing any issues and how to handle them as they arise. These might include how to manage the situation if the employee goes on stress leave, lodges a complaint against the supervisor or other staff members or is critical of the manager and the process in the workplace.

In most organisations employee related costs are one of the highest, if not the highest, line item in the budget and successful organisations have motivated, engaged and high performing staff.

Where an employee is not meeting the performance expectations of their role, not only is there likely to be an impact on the effectiveness of the organisation, it is also likely to affect the motivation of other employees. Therefore it is in the interest of the organisation and its employees to intervene early and manage poor performance.

Contributor:  Trish Kelly is a Sydney-based executive coach who was the General Manager Human Resources for 8 years in the NSW Department of Education and Communities. Trish is an experienced leader, change manager and facilitator with over 30 years’ experience in the public sector. Trish’s executive coaching expertise is available in Sydney, Wollongong, Newcastle, throughout NSW and Australia-wide by arrangement.

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