Addressing employees who are not meeting your performance standards is a challenging feat. And unfortunately, no one has come up with a pill, magic wand, or corrective recourse. That means to be successful, you must learn how to effectively address performance issues.

Below I have outlined the don’ts and the do’s when addressing performance problems in the workplace.

DON’TS – Things I would not recommend:
• Be passive aggressive.
• Talk about the issue with everyone but the employee.
• Wait to address the issue until it is time for promotion or compensation increase.
• Rate them as average until they are moved to a new supervisor.
• Create an environment that motivates them to quit.
• Respond or react emotionally.
• Make an employment decision before you have all the facts.

DO’S – Things I do recommend:
• Diagnose the problem. The best advice I received is to use the equation Performance=DOA.
o D – Does the employee have the desire to do the job?
o O – Have they had the opportunity to meet your expectations?
o A – Do they have the ability?
o The answers to these three questions need to align to equal performance.
o Once you diagnose the root of the issue, then you can decide how to respond.

• Be prompt in addressing the issue. Why give it time to get worse? A lag in response can also lead to headaches if you decide to take employment action in the future.

• Create a conversation checklist. Go into the meeting to discuss the issue with a plan. Be direct but human and assume most employees do not intentionally want to perform poorly.

 I want to speak with you about this specific issue.
 Here is what I observed.
 Here is what I expect. (Have the policy or procedure to reference if there is one.)
 What is causing the expectation to not be met? Ask and then listen, this is where you diagnose.
 This is how we work to correct the issue.
 Set a timeline for improvement and define the improvement metrics.
 Here is what will occur if there is no improvement.
 This is how we will communicate as we work towards a successful resolution.

• Document. If it is not in writing, it did not happen. Documenting the conversation, issue, and action items ensures the employee is receiving the message correctly. It can be easy to not hear or hear something different during a conversation. Documentation also is your foundation for any future employment action and the communication tool for their next supervisor or others to reference performance history.

• Act if no improvement. Follow your progressive disciplinary policies to take the next steps. Sometimes the employee is just not right for the job. Do not let that affect the rest of your employees or the success of your business.

In short, be ready to diagnose, prepare, listen, document, and act, and do so with empathy. By following these recommendations, you will see improvements in your employee performance review process.