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Information on Poor Performance

Information extracted from the internet, not original of this website:

A poor performance is usually something you see in amateur theatre – not in the workplace! Many employers – if not most – confuse poor performance with negligence, incapacity and even misconduct. This is because of a lack of understanding of the clear distinctions that separate the various conditions – in other words, the employer does not know what the charge should be. He only knows that what is happening is unacceptable to him, and the employee must be dismissed as quickly as possible.

The result of this uninformed action is that the employee is charged with negligence, poor performance, incapacity, misconduct and, as if that is not enough, the charge sheet also states that the trust relationship has irretrievably broken down and that the employment relationship has become intolerable. The poor employee goes into a cold sweat, is so stressed about all this that he/she does not even prepare a defense, and in fact has not the faintest idea what he is being charged with, nor even why he is being charged.

Based on all this, the final outcome is that the employee is dismissed, he/she goes to a labour lawyer or consultant, who, upon hearing the facts laughs gleefully and sends the employer an invitation to have tea at the CCMA and bring along his cheque book!! Lets look at exactly what poor performance is, and the remedy for it. Poor Performance does not look at the behavior of the employee at work Problems of behavior are addressed under misconduct. Poor Performance looks at whether the job, which the employee is being paid to do, is being done properly.

Misconduct or unacceptable behavior occurs when a rule is broken, or some other unacceptable behavior happens. Assault, swearing at a customer, that sort of thing. Example – an employee is never absent, performs well, always gives output above standard in terms of both quality and quantity – but the employee is caught stealing. This is clearly misconduct – not poor performance. Misconduct usually results in immediate and severe disciplinary action – perhaps even dismissal. Poor Performance results in investigation, counseling, meeting and discussion with the employee, training and so on, before dismissal is even contemplated.

The procedures for handling poor performance are completely different from the procedures for handling misconduct. Performance is all about how the employee does the job – i.e. quality. Misconduct is all about behavior or conduct of the employee on the job in relation to company rules, policies and procedures. Now, before we go any further, you must clearly understand that the employer MUST ensure that the employee is fully aware of the Company Standards for the job, and that the employee is fully trained to do the job.

The employee cannot meet standards of quality and quantity when those standards have never been communicated to him/her, and likewise the employee cannot perform if no training has been given. If the required standards have never been communicated to the employee, and you have never taken steps to ensure proper training, your case of poor performance goes out the window and ends up on the compost heap!!!

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