If you have employees working with you, it is inevitable that performance issues will occur. The question is “how do you handle the issue”? Time and again, I have seen leaders ignore the problem – but typically it doesn’t go away. Finally, one day the leader gets so frustrated with the employee that he fires him. But wait…the employee does not even know there is an issue! You may have just lost a very good employee who could have resolved the problem and you now have to take the time to find someone new. Also, firing someone like this (without documentation of the steps taken to try to help the employee) opens you up to employee claims and lawsuits.
If an employee is having a performance issue, it is critical to 1.) address it immediately, 2.) work with the employee to improve it, and 3.) document the actions taken:
• Start by asking the employee what he needs to be successful with the area(s) in which he is struggling. Give him some coaching and guidance.
• If improvement doesn’t happen, then give him a verbal or written warning. Be sure to cite specific examples and focus on the behavior, not the person. Give suggestions for improving and explain what success looks like.
• If improvement still doesn’t occur, then the employee may need to be put on probation or terminated.
• Verbal, written warnings, probations, and terminations should be documented. Written warnings and probations should be signed by you and the employee.
• Typically, verbal warnings should be put in your management file and written warnings, probations, and terminations should put in the employee’s personnel file.
Many performance issues can be resolved if the employee knows about it and is given some suggestions on how to improve. So don’t brush these issues under the rug…rather, give the employee an opportunity to improve. Ultimately, this could save you a lot of time, lost productivity, and frustration!