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Division of Human Resources


Addressing Performance Problems

Problems in the workplace inevitably arise. Whether they are behavior-based, performance-based or both, the actions of just one employee can impact the efficiency of your entire team.

All employees are expected to perform their jobs in an efficient and effective manner. However, when it becomes clear that an employee’s ability to be efficient or effective is compromised, it is your responsibility, as the supervisor, to step in and address the situation.

Just like in any performance assessment, open and constructive communication between employees and supervisors is key. As the supervisor, it is your responsibility to communicate directly and immediately when problems or deficiencies first arise. Similarly, employees should communicate with supervisors when issues arise so that concerns can be addressed before they escalate into larger performance or behavior problems.

In counseling with an employee, you should state what the performance deficiency is, provide suggested ways of overcoming the deficiency, a time period for that improvement and the consequences if no improvements are made. We recommend that you make a written record for both yourself and to be provided to the employee.

How to Address Performance-Based Problems

When an employee demonstrates substandard job performance, it is important that supervisors address these inefficiencies promptly. Often, problems can be corrected, therefore managers should always provide an employee with adequate notice and the opportunity to improve prior to the annual performance appraisal and prior to being removed from the position.

There is a formal "substandard performance process" that supervisors should take that includes providing your employee a written warning notice of substandard performance. For more details about the progression of steps that need to be taken in addressing performance-based problems, please refer to the Substandard Performance section of the HR policy on Performance Appraisals for Classified and Unclassified Staff [pdf] or contact the Employee Relations Office. 

Performance-Based Problems that Require Disciplinary Action

While an employee's decline in performance or inability to meet the job expectations is handled through the substandard performance process, there may be some performance problems that require disciplinary action. A few examples of performance problems that could result in disciplinary action include:

  • An employee who forgets to do an assignment or who flagrantly refuses to do an assigned task
  • Making a significant mistake or error that has a negative impact
  • Failure to meet a deadline or fulfill a critical job responsibility or commitment
  • Inaccurately completing or presenting an important job assignment

For more details about the proper steps that must me taken, please visit the Disciplinary Procedures section of this site.