One of the most common mistakes that managers make is failing to let employees know that there is a problem with their behavior or performance. Or, when the do, they are not clear. Often, we hope that the employee will improve or end the poor behavior on their own. Yet, that rarely happens. Instead, the situation may become worse. This puts the company at risk. They may make an employment decision without the proper documentation and notification to the employee.
Confrontation can be difficult for many. However, managers should take charge of situations that may be interfering with the overall success of the organization. Although the initial conversation may be tough, dealing with issues when they first arise can be the easiest and most beneficial way to help improve workplace behavior and performance. A conversation where an employee is facing consequences for problem behavior they were never made aware of can actually be more uncomfortable.
Document, Document, Document
“If it’s not documented, it never happened, ” a NYS Administrative Law Judge once said during an unemployment hearing. It is important to tackle the issues as they arise. Keep documentation of the steps taken to improve the behavior/performance of the employee. “Document, document, document,” is ESC’s favorite slogan. Protect your company against unnecessary unemployment charges and employment litigation with a paper trail of performance appraisals, coaching notes, and warnings.
The best way to approach employee performance is to be honest and direct, but professional. If you do not tell employees otherwise, they will assume that their performance, attendance, work ethic, and attitude are all acceptable. Have an action plan set for them. It should outline specific goals and areas to improve, and set a time to follow up and re-assess their progress. Broad and vague improvements such as, “Do a better job at…” leave it open for their interpretation and can result in lack of improvement. At ESC, our HR Business Partners are available to help coach managers through this process and assist them with progressive discipline and tough conversations.