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4 ways to address employee performance problems

By Jana Angeles

Emily Newman from Yonyx writes, “Good leaders and customer centric companies recognise the importance of employee behaviour and performance on the overall success or failure of the business. Managing employee conduct is the joint responsibility of the company and the individual employee.”

Addressing performance problems can be an awkward scenario but as a manager, it’s your responsibility to recognise when it’s time to reign in an employee and try to rectify the issues caused by their performance. 

Did you know that the average cost to hire a new employee in Australia is around $5000? Recruitment can be costly so you may want to sit down and start making decisions on whether or not you want to try and improve the performance of an underperforming employee or seek out a new hire. 

Either way, what you decide to do should be backed up with an effective plan, working together with the human resources manager to come up with the appropriate actions to take when managing an underperforming employee.

Here are four ways to address employee performance problems at work that can help you approach the matter effectively.

How can you address employee performance problems?

  1. Find out the root of their performance problems.
  2. Be understanding of their personal issues.
  3. Ensure that you follow up.
  4. Understand that you may have to let them go. 

1. Find out the root of their performance problems.

problem-solving concept

When you notice an employee is underperforming in their duties, it’s important to recognise where the issues have started. Were they enthusiastic at first but no longer find the role as engaging? Does it seem like they lost interest in submitting quality work? Answering these questions may help you build a picture on how your employee is progressing. 

While it can be confronting to set up a meeting with an employee that’s underperforming, it’s essential to do this as soon as you start recognising the issues that come up when they’re working on their normal duties.

2. Be understanding of their personal issues.

When it comes to the mental wellbeing of employees, it’s important to check in every so often on how they’re going with their current workload, especially when major changes are happening, such as the restructuring of roles in the organisation or picking up extra responsibilities due to staff members leaving. If you’re aware of your employee’s work ethic and find that their underperformance is out of character, check in with them and have a conversation about your concerns

They may not choose to share information that is happening in their personal life but creating this opportunity may make them feel more comfortable in opening up their issues to you. It’s important to recognise what your legal obligations are as an employer if your employee is involved in a domestic violence situation or be understanding if someone from their immediate family passes away. 

3. Ensure that you follow up.

asian woman speaking with boss

Depending on the policies implemented by your company, you may have had to issue a warning letter to an underperforming employee. Perhaps you’ve also had discussions with the HR manager on how you can best handle this situation and to justify why a warning letter should be given to this person. They may show up late to work everyday or send out emails that not only misrepresents the company’s brand but lacks the standard that is expected of employees in general

Monitoring their progress is important because this allows you to see any positive changes made regarding their work. It also gives you the opportunity to discuss how they can improve their role with them. Perhaps your employee needs extra training that can help develop their current skills and knowledge, allowing them to boost their work performance by tenfold. It also gives you the chance to reward them if they have shown significant improvement.

4. Understand that you may have to let them go. 

It can be a tough call to make when it comes to letting go an employee since the process of hiring someone else can be costly and time-consuming. However, you may have to make the decision because you know that keeping someone that isn’t performing well is not the best way to utilise the company’s money or time. 

It’s important to approach the situation in a logical way because if you add emotions to the mix, you may not be able to go through with it since you’ve built a great rapport with said employee. You also have to think about your team and how keeping this person may affect their productivity and morale.

Interested in human resources?

If you want to work with people and have an interest in the areas of recruitment or performance management, consider studying human resources with Upskilled. Courses are delivered online and can be completed within 12 months. 

These qualifications can help kickstart your career in the field of HR, developing the relevant knowledge and skills that can encourage you to pursue roles such as human resources officer or human resources manager. Get in touch with the Upskilled team and enquire today about how a course in HR can help you reach your career goals in the field. 
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