Performance Management

Addressing Performance Issues

One of the most difficult parts of a manager’s job is addressing performance issues with the employees that report to them. 

Many companies have policies and practices of implementing a performance improvement process (PIP) with employees exhibiting performance issues. While these can be useful in limited circumstances, they don’t always achieve the desired result. PIPs are most successful as a method of ensuring the employee has all of the necessary skills and education to do the job and identifying areas where both the employee and manager can adjust current practice to meet the necessary targets. 

When employee performance consistently remains below expectations despite being provided with clear instructions and the necessary resources to improve, PIPs can be used by employers to build show why an employee should be terminated for cause. That is a valid legal strategy and if pursued diligently and thoroughly over a reasonable period of time, it can result in a defensible termination of employment for just cause without any obligation to pay severance. 

How to Reduce Occurrence of Performance Issues

  • put clear policies in place that address the most common workplace issues:
    • workplace harassment
    • absences
    • use of company IT
  • ensure a clear job description is in place for each role
  • make reporting relationships clear and stick to them
  • provide adequate training, resources and support to new employees and to employees moving to new positions
  • have reasonable expectations regarding the amount of work that can be done in the allotted time
  • outline clear targets and deadlines
  • find realistic ways of measuring performance and clearly communicate them

Recommendations for when Performance Issues Come Up

  • address concerns early and often – it is easier to have a discussion about a small issue than a big one
  • provide specific, recent examples when raising concerns about performance
  • set out clear and reasonable targets and timeframes for demonstrating improvement
  • keep detailed, written records of performance issues
  • use probationary periods the way they were intended. If an employee does not appear to have the skills needed for the job, act quickly to give some extra support or training. If there is still no meaningful improvement as the end of the probationary period nears cut your losses and terminate without cause.

Carbert Waite’s employment lawyers would be happy to help you with any performance management questions you may have.

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