Addressing Employee's Performance Deficiencies
With many employers dealing with a leaner workforce, one of management's priorities is employees' performance and productivity. So what is the best way to deal with employees whose performance is less than satisfactory? The answer lies in your progressive discipline plan. While progressive discipline is fairly straightforward for behavior problems like rule-breaking or safety violations, the process for addressing performance deficiencies is not always so clear cut. The amount of time and effort a manager is willing to put into improving an employee's performance can vary widely, depending on the nature of the performance issue and the perceived value of the employee. Continual encouragement and coaching only goes so far. A better approach is a performance improvement plan (PIP).
Here's what managers need to cover in a formal, written PIP:
The deficiency statement
This is a summary of where the employee's performance is not up to standard. The manager should confirm that the problem is actual performance (a lack of mastery of tasks or skills) or a behavior problem (that is, the employee has the ability to perform the tasks, but a disruptive presence gets in the way of his productivity).
The overall action plan
This section defines the skills or behaviors that need improvement and specific duties where improvement is necessary. Include any special training that will be provided, either by the manager or other individuals.
Most improvement plans include both short-term and long-term performance targets.
The time frame
When does the manager expect to see improvement in performance?
What is going to be an acceptable standard of improvement? Set realistic measurements.
If the employee is unwilling or unable to improve performance within the given time frame, what happens next?
The manager should schedule periodic update sessions to review the employee's progress. It is difficult for a PIP to be successful if the parties don't get together regularly to discuss how things are going and perhaps make whatever mid-course directions are needed.
The PIP is a fair process for the employee. It defines clearly the performance expectations of the employee's assignment, and it affords the employee the opportunity to improve performance to meet these expectations.
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