The dilemma of underperforming workers

Posted by Roxanne Chugg

In working with clients I am often asked to provide advice and assistance in dealing with and managing an underperforming worker.

For many organisations this is a challenge that can be very stressful but it needs to be dealt with efficiently and effectively.   Workers claim “bullying” and “unfair dismissal” and there is a real fear of workers heading off to Fair Work Australia to make their claim.

It is likely that Fair Work will scrutinise (and rightly so) your organisation’s performance management systems and processes for any complaint relating an unfair dismissal.  A dismissal for poor performance can be easy to challenge if you are not able to demonstrate that you made genuine efforts to help the employee improve their performance.

You can significantly minimise the risk of an unfair dismissal claim or other action (e.g. breach of contract) by having sounds and correct systems, processes and procedures in place for dealing with performance issues with your employees.  This will make it more difficult for the employee to claim your actions and decisions were workplace bullying or unreasonable in their intention.
So what is performance management and what does it involve?

Performance management is the process of evaluating, monitoring and managing the performance of an employee to ensure that it is consistent with the company’s vision, mission and goals, and with the specific goals and standards of that employee.  Performance management involves the following steps:

  1. Identifying performance standards and clarifying expectations;
  2. Setting goals for employees to work towards;
  3. Monitoring progress and providing feedback to employees about their performance;
  4. Providing opportunities for further training and/or development e.g. to develop the desired skills or knowledge;
  5. Rewarding employees who perform well;
  6. Counselling employees where their performance or conduct is poor; and
  7. Disciplining employees where there is continued poor performance or conduct, or where such performance or conduct is unacceptable.


Check out Amanda’s recent blog on performance reviews for further tips on managing under performance so you can give your employee the best chance at improving to meet your expectations -