Last week we talked about redundancy and it was surprising how passionate people were about it. Performance management came up as a reason for people being made redundant. At one time or another we have witnessed redundancy being used when performance management should have been followed. As @neilmorrison commented:
But in my opinion, why should we be rewarding poor performers with redundancy pay outs when they aren’t performing to the expected standard? Aren’t we just lying to those poor performers and misusing the redundancy process because we just don’t want to deal with it? I have witnessed managers avoid having difficult conversations with their employees because they don’t want to go through a long performance management process, yet as soon as there is an opportunity to get rid of them in a restructure they jump at the chance. They will be going to a new role, a new company with a false pretence of their ability to perform.
I am not disagreeing that some employees aren’t the right fit, or they’re not in the right job and consequently can’t perform. But shouldn’t the manager find other ways to address the issues? What about “redeployment”, or find out what they enjoy doing, or what they want to do and actively work with them to find a job that works for them. Isn’t that more likely to retain “dignity”?
Performance management has such a bad connotation. Employees see performance management used when they are under performing, when they haven’t met their targets and when they continually produce unsatisfactory work. In my opinion, a manager should address poor performance the second they catch wind of it, informal conversations should be happening. As @neilmorrison said – “no one comes to work to perform badly”, there could be other reasons to why the employee is under performing, and unless managers have the courage to have those conversations, how are we supposed to help them or know that we are doing the right thing? In many cases the employee just needs some extra support, and some extra help but feel they can’t ask for it.
Performance management is a process for a reason, we should know when to use it and how to use it. We shouldn’t be making excuses such as “maybe they don’t fit in” “maybe it isn’t the right role”. Making someone redundant because we don’t want to go through the process isn’t good enough. That isn’t allowing someone to leave with dignity, that is getting rid of someone without the integrity of telling them truth.
So here are my questions for you:
Q1) How do we make performance management processes easier for managers to follow?
Q2) What is HR’s responsibility to ensure that managers are handling poor performance correctly and with integrity?
Q3) How should a managers confidence and/or competence to handle poor performance be addressed?
Q4) As an HR Professional, what is your advice to a manager on how to deal with a poor performer?
I came across a NZ employment law case where redundancy was used rather than dealing with the issue correctly. Parties: Totara Hills Farms v Davison, 20 March 2013. If you would like a copy please ask in the comments.
Just on a side note – something we should be considering when coaching managers about performance is whether they actually understand what we mean when we say performance. The TEDtalk from Chris Shambrook made me really think about this. Watch the video here