Is it poor employee performance or poor behavior?

When business is good we tend to overlook marginal performance and poor behavior. The old adage- sales hides all sins – can not be a part of any business striving to be successful today.

Good employee performance should be rewarded regularly and loudly, while poor performance or poor behavior should be addressed discretely and swiftly. Many people often mistake poor performance with poor behavior.

As described in an article at

Poor Performance looks at whether the job, which the employee is being paid to do, is being done properly. Poor behavior – relates to misconduct- deliberate disregard proper professional conduct.

So how do you define poor performance?

  • Is the output sufficient?
  • Is the quality acceptable?
  • Are company operating procedures being followed?
  • Are costs kept within budget or is the amount of rejects unacceptably high?
  • Is the effort put in by the employee sufficient?
  • Is it perhaps inability to do the job at the required level – can the employee perform satisfactorily at a lower level?
  • Is just plain incompetence? I.e. not insufficient effort, but a clearly a lack of ability to do the job?
  • Is it carelessness – lack of attention to detail?
  • Is it a form of negligence but not misconduct? In other words “I don’t care.”

Management’s responsibility:

  • Respond in reasonable time frame
  • Be specific about the problem and the solution- let them help this to determine – TFU
  • Establish cause- personal life issues, internal company issues
  • Investigation- Determine if systemic issues exist
  • Discussion with the employee- reiterate expectations in writing
  • Counseling meeting – not punishment- assist them to recognize and overcome the problem
  • Training – retraining
  • Find a mutually acceptable way of dealing with it
  • Follow up
  • At the end of the counseling session, the employee must be warned of the consequences of failure to improve where such warning is appropriate.
  • Bear in mind that the aim of the counseling session is not to punish the employee, but to notify an employee of the need to improve their performance.


Defining misconduct or poor behavior (relation to company rules, policies and procedures)

  • Stealing
  • Assault
  • Swearing at a customer
  • Disruptive behavior
  • Blatant disregard for company policy or procedures

An example might be an employee is never absent and performs well but the employee is caught stealing… blatant misconduct issue.

Management’s Responsibility

  • Respond immediately
  • Investigate thoroughly- write exact account
  • Determine punitive action
  • Make decision quickly
  • Misconduct usually results in immediate and severe disciplinary action – perhaps even dismissal.

The surest way to erode your credibility, respect and profits with your employees, boss and most importantly, customers and clients is to ignore poor behavior and employee performance issues.Making every employee and manager aware of your written guidelines in your policy and procedure manual assures everyone understands the critical nature of their proper behavior and performance. it sets the expectations necessary to ensure sustainable productivity and efficiency that drive excellent customer service and growing profits..

If you are in doubt as to how to respond to people issues, get good outside help from a trusted adviser, business coach or a friend with an unbiased view. Working with a good business coach is a great way to stay ahead of the competition both in the growth of you and your people and the growth of your business.

To your continued success,

Coach Nancy