The importance of communication in performance management (article)

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In this article, Derek Stockley outlines the importance of communication in dealing with day to day performance problems and situations.

In the public team leader training course I conduct*, performance problems and situations are often raised. Whilst there are many causes, the importance of communication is always highlighted.

Dealing with long-term performance problems can be a difficult process. In Australia, many companies and organisations have found the legal issues in unfair dismissal processes complex and difficult.

The clarity and simplicity of a "three month probation clause" in an AWA (Australian Workplace Agreement) shows how easily problems can be avoided. A standard probation clause gives either party the option to end the relationship.

Whilst I would argue that good recruitment and selection processes should avoid any problems, the three month probation clause provides a simple escape mechanism, provided the communication issues are addressed.

Often, dismissal/termination is not necessary.

Good communication, clarification of roles, clear statement of expectations - all help avoid performance problems.

The essential management and leader role is to act quickly.

Many unfair dismissal cases have been won by employees when they claimed they did not know there was a problem. It is not fair and reasonable for an employer to put up with below standard performance for months, and even years, and then suddenly decide to take drastic disciplinary action.

I hear of too many situations where a performance problem has been "swept under the carpet" because the team leader or manager involved does not know how to address the situation.

A failure to act only makes matters worse for both the employee and the employer.

To maximise communication and performance, the approach should be as follows:

  • Use sound recruitment and selection processes to hire people with the required knowledge, skills and aptitude.

  • Ensure full and proper induction of new employees, ensuring good training and performance monitoring.

  • Use the probation period to assess performance and provide employee feedback.

  • Confirm employment and provide regular informal and formal learning and performance feedback opportunities.

The essential ingredient is good communication, whether it be formal or informal.


References relevant to the above are:

*Public team leader training course - an explanation of the public Developing Team Leaders course that Derek has conducted for many years.

AWA’s for Small Business - Employment Advocate - a new website developed specifically for small business by the Employment Advocate. The site is designed to facilitate the development and implementation of AWA’s (Australian Workplace Agreement) between individual employees and employers.

Employment Advocate - Official website of the Employment Advocate, an independent statutory position in the Australian Government.

Recruitment and selection - getting the basics right - a free newsletter article providing two essential recruitment and selection tips.

To review the newsletter, see: Listing of recent newsletter articles.

You can publish this article, provided that you meet certain requirements, see: High Performance Newsletter Publication page.

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