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Questions managers should ask themselves

When a manager identifies a performance issue they can use this information to help identify the performance issues, possible causes and actions before jumping to a conclusion.

There are possible reasons for performance issues that could apply to any situation where performance doesn’t meet the standards required. Go through these questions each time you identify a performance issue.

Questions to ask yourself as a manager

Make sure you’ve considered a range of possibilities before jumping to conclusions or taking action.

  1. Is it me as a manager?

  2. Is it a training, knowledge or tools issue?
    • Set up a training and development plan and ensure that they get the training that they need.
    • Make sure they have the tools they need to do the job efficiently.
    • In some cases literacy may be an issue to consider.

  3. Do they understand what is expected of them?

  4. Have I communicated what is required clearly enough?

  5. Is the job description clear?

  6. Did they get enough guidance on the task?
    • Review tasks and expectations and check this by asking the employee to explain their understanding of their tasks and your expectations.

  7. Is this a new issue; were they previously a good performer?
    • Look at past performance, review if the work, or the workload, has changed; talk with the employee and get their thoughts.

  8. Is it something separate to work? Are they distracted by some external personal issue?
    • Avoid asking direct personal questions, but try to make sure that the employee knows of your concern (if a personal issue); offer EAP.
    • Don’t try to solve personal issues or problems.
    • Allow time for them to handle their situation, show concern and plan a date to meet again and see if they have resolved it.
    • Limit your opinions to work topics only.

  9. Is there a workplace environment issue?

  10. Is the employee not suited for the job?
    • This may have resulted from poor recruitment or as a result of workplace change. Remember that very few employees come to work not wanting to be successful in their job. It can be soul destroying and stressful to an employee when they feel that they cannot deliver in the role. Issues like this need to be treated with care. After you’ve gone through all of the steps for managing performance issues then you may be able to work with the employee to see if there are other solutions, such as a different job either inside or outside the organisation. Continued poor performance may be grounds for dismissal.

  11. Is the employee performing poorly in many things and doesn’t show any motivation?
    • You still need to work carefully through all of the steps in managing performance issues. Continued poor performance may be grounds for dismissal.

Common performance issues, possible causes and actions

See the table on common performance issues [PDF 149KB], possible causes and actions for a summary of common issues faced by employers and employees when managing performance, and some options to consider. Don’t feel limited by the categories, where options do not work in one place they may be very effective in another.

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