Employee Performance Management Do’s, Don’ts & Tips

Employee Performance Management
Ian Pratt
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Performance Management Overview | The Performance Interview | Download Warning Templates & Flow Chart | Do's, Don'ts & Tips | Phrasing for Negative Feedback

Employee Performance Management "to Do’s"

This employee performance management guide would not be complete without a list of things that you should do to ensure your performance management is effective.

Must Do's

  • Play a game called, "catch you the second time around." When an employee advises you that they were not aware of the performance expectation the first time, apologize and explain the expectation to them. If the employee is a poor performer you will be talking to them again soon enough about their performance.

  • Consider the employee’s character. A well-performing employee who makes one mistake is not a poor performer; they are still a good employee who needs coaching or other support.

  • Respect your employee’s right to privacy (even after they have left the business). Keep all performance discussions confidential and ask your employee to do the same.

  • Ensure all employee performance discussions are held in private, out of ear and eyeshot of all other employees.

  • Postpone judgment of your employee until after you have provided the allegations to your employee and they have had an opportunity to respond.

  • Ensure that you always give your employee the right to reply, an opportunity to speak and present their view of the situation.

  • Be specific with your allegations.

  • Focus on only one undesirable behavior or one performance issue at a time.

  • Phrase your allegations in a way that avoids directly accusing the employee of wrongdoing, position your allegations to engage your employee in conversation.

  • Seek all of the facts and only the facts. Note: Performance management is based on the balance of probability, which is a lower standard than criminal law, which is beyond reasonable doubt.

  • Give feedback immediately, or as soon as you have gathered the facts.

  • Remain calm throughout your performance discussion.

  • Be fair and consistent with all employees.

  • Be firm. An expectation is an expectation.

  • Be friendly; normal social graces apply. Thank the employee for attending the meeting and thank them for participating in the meeting.

  • Listen objectively to the employee. They may have a good reason for their performance being below the expectations.

  • Focus on the behavior or the issue, not the person.

  • Seek to resolve the behavior or the performance gap. Always seek a positive outcome.

  • Be willing to go the extra mile to help your employee correct their performance gap. Be willing to invest your time to see them being successful.

  • Do keep a record of all discussions on the topic with your employees.

  • Only give your employee a printed copy of signed performance letters, as they cannot be tampered with or forged.

  • For a complete, expertly-prepared performance management guide, use the navigation bar on the left of the screen.

Employee Performance Management "Don’ts"

Employee Performance Management guide to things that you should definately not do:

Don't Do's
  • Raise your voice or become angry. When you lose your temper or control of your emotions, your employees will quickly learn the right buttons to press and will make a game of provoking you.

  • Get caught up discussing a long list of unrelated excuses that distract the conversation. You will find some employees are skilled at getting off track in employee performance discussions. You will need to have the staying on track leadership skill.

  • To stay on track all you need to do is persistently restate the performance problem every time the employee sidetracks the discussion.

  • For Example: “I appreciate that some employees might not be wearing their safety glasses; however, we are here to discuss why you were not wearing safety gloves when decanting chemicals”

  • Make excuses for your employee’s behavior. Leave that to your employee.

  • Include any comments about your employee's reason for not meeting expectations. You will find that comments like the following example are inflammatory and easy for the employee to offer a rebuttal or excuse. These types of comments cause a distraction from the performance management discussion.

  • For Example:"You did not meet service expectations because you are not really interested in your job."

  • Offer the motivation for the poor performance.

  • For example: "You did not meet performance targets because you are lazy." This is making a judgment that is both unfair and irrelevant to the issue you are discussing.

  • Be general in your counseling, the employee must clearly understand the issue for which they are being counseled.

  • Fail to document evolving performance issues of which you will need an evidence trail. Communicate with your employee about their performance, including training and coaching that has occurred.

  • React to a hostile employee response. Remain calm and pause for a minute.

  • Delay taking action. Discuss issues immediately with your employees.

  • Be vague with your examples of poor performance.

  • Overlook your employee's explanation for their poor performance.

  • Hold a grudge. Remain friendly with the employee after the employee performance interview. If you counsel an employee, find a reason to have a non-performance-related touch point with them within two hours of the performance discussion.

The utmost important thing to remember when preparing for an employee performance discussion is that the employee is a human. In your position of authority, you are seeking to resolve a performance issue, not seeking revenge. If you can do that without harming the employee’s self-esteem then you have mastered performance management.

Employee Performance Management Tips

Tip: Minimising Harassment Claims
    If the only time you give feedback to your employees is during an employee performance interview, you will have an increased risk of an employee filing a complaint of harassment against you.

    You can minimize this risk of a harassment claim by giving regular feedback to your employee. To find out how, take five minutes to review our one-on-one section.

    If an employee threatens to file a harassment claim, show them how to go about it. You cannot stop an employee from going down any path they like; however, you can show that you are not afraid and have nothing to hide.

Tip: Give of yourself
    Good people leaders do so much to help their people overcome their performance gaps that their people thank them for their effort.

Tip: Self-Solving
    When you manage employee performance, you will find that a percentage of your under performers will seek alternative employment, rather than wait out the performance management process.

Tip: Demonstrating Importance
    If you delay giving feedback to your employee, your employee can rightfully assume that the issue is not that important to you. Timely feedback implies “this is important.”

Tip: Take time to Consider
    Always have a break between the employee performance interview and advising the employee of the performance outcomes. This break demonstrates that you took time to consider the employee’s responses before making a decision.

Tips for Formal Performance Interviews
  • It is common and good practice to have a company witness at these meetings. Someone other than you who can confirm the content of the discussion.

  • Even verbal warnings tend to be documented and a copy of the warning is given to the employee.

  • If an employee is fit to work then they are fit to meet all expectations.

  • Your employee might be having a difficult time outside of work, so by all means, do what is reasonable to help the employee (Refer them to an employee assistance program or allow them to use personal or sick leave).

  • It is always good practice to check with your HR adviser before issuing any performance warning or terminating an employee’s position.

Tips for your Performance Discussion
  • Do not raise your voice; it does not matter how loud you speak as long as your employee can hear. Yelling does not improve communication; your people will not gain a better understanding from you and will not respect you.

  • The employee does not need a witness for a fireside chat. Check you local laws and employment contracts to confirm, but you can say no if the employee requests one.

  • Always ensure the employee understands that you value their contribution, except in the case of unique circumstances.

  • In Employee Performance Management, if the employee has a witness you can request that they remain silent during the discussion. If they insist on interrupting, you can ask them to leave the discussion.

Tips for when the employee does not open up?
    Then you cannot help them – do not push the point. If the issue is personal, you have no right to know and they are under no obligation to advise you of their personal issues.

    You cannot take them into consideration as a mitigating factor, if, later, performance does not improve.

Tips for Formal Performance Interviews
  • It is common and good practice to have a company witness at these meetings. There will be someone other than you who can confirm the content of the discussion.

  • Even verbal warnings tend to be documented and a copy of the warning is given to the employee

  • If an employee is fit to work then they are fit to meet all expectations.

  • Your employee might be having a difficult time outside of work, so by all means, do what is reasonable to help the employee (Refer them to an employee assistance program or allow them to use personal or sick leave).

    A good leader will not accept poor on the job performance due to outside influences. It is not good for the business and not good for the employee. A good leader is also a human…have empathy for your people.

Tip: Whole Person
    An employee is not a poor performer if they are meeting or exceeding most of your performance expectations and falling short on only a few expectations. These employees are good performers with a few development needs. You should definitely have a discussion with these employees about their performance and approach the conversation as a coaching discussion.

Tip: Where to Start
    If you have not done a lot of performance management, a good way to start managing performance in your business is to brainstorm all of the undesirable behaviors in your business. Make this list as complete as you can, however, only spend ten minutes brainstorming your list.

    Once you have the list of undesirable behaviors, you can list all of the people who exhibit these behaviors. When complete, you will have a comprehensive view of poor employee behavior in your business.

    We recommend addressing undesirable behaviors first because the undesirable behaviors tend to be more disruptive to the rest of your team and they tend to be easy to address. When you have addressed all undesirable behaviors in your business, you will find that on the job performance generally improves too.

Site Links
Performance Management Overview
The Performance Interview
Download Letter Templates & Flow Chart
Do's, Don'ts & Tips

Performance Management Checklist PDF MS Word
Behavior Anchored Rating Scale For Employees PDF or MS Word
Behavior Anchored Rating Scale For Manager PDF or MS Word