In what is a perennial human resources issue, poor performing employees can have a serious impact on an organisation or business.There are the obvious risks of reinstatement, of financial compensation or lost wages, legal costs and management time spent. Then there are hidden costs affecting the rest of the company's workforce, creating lower morale, lower productivity and high turnover.

Members of our Workplace Relations & Safety team recently presented to groups of employers and HR professionals on this complex topic. The team provided practical advice on how to manage poor performance, including:

  • Distinguishing misconduct and poor performance
  • The process for addressing misconduct
  • The process for dealing with poor performance
  • Three strikes and you're out! Have we moved past this rule of thumb?
  • Potential legal issues (bullying, discrimination, adverse action, unfair dismissal)

Partner Julian Riekert, who presented at the Melbourne briefing, noted that "90% of dealing successfully with performance issues lies in having a clear plan of action and preparing thoroughly as that plan unfolds.  Always consider the employment contract before contemplating taking disciplinary action against an employee." Riekert recommended having a clear and workable performance management policy and procedure which are in sync. "Your policy or procedure can fail because they do not mesh" he said.

Aaron Goonrey agreed saying that "The enormous interest in this breakfast briefing indicates that many businesses are constantly facing challenges in ensuring successful performance management."  Aaron said that the overwhelmingly positive feedback from the Sydney breakfast briefing was because "practical case studies were presented to illustrate those instances of effective performance management, as opposed to those cases where the consequences have been doomed from the outset."