​​​​​Useful resources

Managing employee under-performanceIdea jigsaw piece

There may be times when an employee’s work is unsatisfactory. While discussing this may be difficult, it’s critical to address the issue as soon as possible.

Steps for managing under-performance

There are a number of steps that may help you manage under-performance:

  • Act promptly, don’t let poor or unsatisfactory performance continue as it will be more difficult to resolve if left unchecked.

  • Arrange a private meeting to discuss under-performance with the employee. Tell the employee what is unsatisfactory and ensure they understand the difference between what they are doing and what you want done. Check that they understand relevant instructions, processes or policy and performance targets. Ensure that the employee is given ample time to respond and ensure it is a two-way conversation.

  • Give the employee an opportunity to explain the reasons for their performance. Under-performance may be due to lack of information or skill, job related issues or personal circumstances. Some personal circumstances may be best referred to someone with appropriate skills or through an Employee Assistance Program.

  • Agree on how the issue will be resolved, including how you can best assist the employee to develop the skills required to do the job to the standard you expect.

  • Make a time for review and ensure during the review that the employee knows whether they are now performing to the required standard or still have some work to do.

  • Always follow up and give positive feedback when the employee is working well. Managing under-performance should be seen as an opportunity for continuous improvement for the employee.

If performance does not improve, you may need to follow this process several times. You need to consider what action will be taken if the employee’s performance remains unsatisfactory. Any proposed action or possible consequences of continued under-performance, such as more training, demotion, transfer or dismissal must be discussed with the employee.


Exclamation note icon 

Important Information
Before you start any process for managing under-performance, check your legal obligations on unfair dismissal and termination of employment.