When you have your employee’s employment confirmed as ongoing (after the trial or probation period) it is important to manage their performance. This should be delegated to the employee’s manager (eg customer service manager or business manager).
This chapter contains the following topics:
Give regular feedback
To effectively manage performance, the employee’s manager should give each team member regular and ongoing feedback both:
- Informally (day-to-day coaching) and
- Formally (as part of their career development review)
Having regular feedback ensures that there are no surprises at review time and that any ‘bad habits’ have not been given the opportunity to set in.
The best way to have an employee listen, accept and respond to feedback is to provide continuous and informal feedback. Saving your performance discussions for remuneration-setting time is the worst time to get someone to engage with you, acknowledge a performance issue, and participate in designing a solution. If you have the performance discussion at remuneration-setting time, you are asking them to put their income at risk.
Career development reviews are also referred to as performance/employee appraisal. Career development reviews are regular reviews of your employee’s performance.
Aims of Career Development Review
The aims of an employee’s career development review are to:
- Facilitate communication between employee and the employer
- Give feedback on performance
- Identify training needs
- Document criteria used to allocate rewards
- Form a basis for salary increases, promotions, disciplinary actions, etc
We recommend you carry out a career development review for each team member once a year at the very outside.
Salary review: Once a year this process should also incorporate salary reviews for team members.
Collect the following documents you need to carry out the career development review process:
- Current position descriptions
- Employment agreements
- Copies of past reviews and action plans
Four weeks before review date
Print a Career Development Review form and issue it to the team member. Ask them to complete and return it to you.
Three weeks before review date
Request a written performance evaluation from the team member’s team leader.
Two weeks before review date
Collect team member’s and manager’s reviews. Set a date and time for the review interview with the team member and manager (allow 1 hour for the review process).
Review both forms and note any suggested areas for development.
If training is needed then investigate options and costs (see the section on training).
If a salary review is also to be undertaken consider the current salary level and proposed increase (if any) and complete the Salary Review Form.
Hold the career development review with the team member and their manager to cover all issues raised. Discuss areas and opportunities for development. If relevant, also discuss salary review, outcome and options with the team member.
Draw up an action plan.
After the review
when a salary review results in a change to the team member’s salary:
- Complete letter to the employee confirming the changes, and
- Complete the Variation of Agreement
Arrange for the Variation of Agreement to be signed by both parties and file on the employee’s personal file together with the completed career development forms and the Salary Review form.
Update the payroll system.
One of the keys to successful performance management is a structured training and development programme for your team members. This programme should meet all professional and skills requirements for continuing education. However, more importantly, it needs to act as a catalyst for the ongoing development of your team.
A structured training and development programme will probably include a mix of internal and external sources.
Use the training and seminars planner for an overview of training for individuals and the team as a whole. The planner helps to identify when team members are available to attend and ensure that all team members receive training.
Training needs are often identified during team members’ career development/performance review (See the section on Career Development Review). Training needs identified this way will help set training goals for up to a year in advance.
Sometimes spot training needs will emerge. For training requirements identified outside of the performance management development process, encourage your managers to evaluate training needs continuously using the Training Requirements Checklist. Review these regularly.
Training Tools and Resources
Build up Training Tools and Resources Guides for key positions. Use the team’s existing position descriptions to identify tasks commonly performed. Note relevant internal training resources and procedural guides which relate to training in required skills. This will cut the time putting together a training session or sourcing external training agencies.
Where cost-effective, implement internal training programmes for groups of employees.
Wherever possible, it is a good idea to make the session interactive. This can be done by case studies, role-plays or simply talking about client examples. Ensure participants are encouraged to ask questions, particularly about how the training can be applied to your clients.
To get the most out of each session ensure pre-reading is circulated and completed beforehand. Run the training program using the internal training checklist. Evaluate the effectiveness of the training using the Course Review form.
Where team members request training from an external provider, ask them to submit the Course Request form for approval by the relevant manager. Complete the registration forms and arrange payment.
Enter onto the training and seminars planner by marking the name and time employees are to attend the course.
Ask all team members attending external training programs to complete a Course Review form.
If applicable, a presentation on the program should be made at the next team meeting or internal training session on relevant items.
Once the training has taken place, collect the Course Review form and evaluate the effectiveness of the training.
In an ideal world, businesses manage performance using tools such as regular informal feedback and formal review, supported by a well-planned and implemented training strategy.
In the real world, however, sometimes problems do arise and it is important to manage them proactively.
Types of problems
Problems which can arise include:
- Poor performance, where the employee is not meeting the reasonable expectations of their job
- Incapacity, where an employee is incapable of doing their job for a period that the employer cannot reasonably be expected to sustain. Usually, incapacity occurs for health reasons
- Incompatibility, where there is a fundamental breakdown in the relationship between two or more individuals, such that they can no longer work together
- Misconduct, or some form of wrongdoing. Usually it will involve deliberate wrongdoing, but there may be circumstances where an employee acts so carelessly that it amounts to misconduct (i.e. gross negligence or recklessness)
Where any of these problems arise, the employer should seek advice on a suitable course of action as soon as possible. Open and clear communication with the employee, good process for managing both the communication and follow-up, and documentation of each stage of the process are givens. However, in the same way that common sense is often not as common as we’d like to think it is, it is often much easier to see with hindsight how a difficult situation could have been managed better.
Any of the problems mentioned above could conceivably lead to a disciplinary or dismissal process. If an employee feels they have been unjustly treated, they may lodge a personal grievance. If an employer is found to have managed the situation without a fair and reasonable process, they are potentially liable before the Employment Relations Authority or Court.
Every collective and individual employment agreement must contain a clear explanation of the processes for resolving employment relationship problems. This explanation does not need to be complex or long. It should be written very clearly, so everyone knows what processes they are required to follow, what their rights are and what happens when a problem is raised.
It is important that all parties, in good faith, try to resolve any problems directly. Some may be able to settle their differences quickly through a mediator with less formal support and cost than a formal process. The Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment provides a free mediation service which can help.
The Employment Relations Act gives all employees the right to pursue a personal grievance if they have any of the following complaints:
- Unjustifiable dismissal
- Unjustifiable action which disadvantages the employee
- Sexual harassment (by someone in authority or by co-workers)
- Racial harassment
- Duress over membership of a union or other employee organisation
An employee has a right to raise a personal grievance case under the Employment Relations Act 2000. This must be done within 90 days of when the grievance occurred or came to his or her attention.
As noted above, if the employee has been given notice of dismissal during a trial period, a personal grievance may not be raised for unjustified dismissal though one can be raised for other reasons such as disadvantage, discrimination or harassment.
Test of justification
If an employee brings a personal grievance against an employer, the test of justification is applied to assess the fairness of an employer’s actions in relation to a disciplinary action or dismissal.
The Employment Relations Authority or Court must consider the following minimum requirements of a fair and reasonable process in making a decision as to whether or not the actions of the employer were what a fair and reasonable employer could have done in all the circumstances.
The Authority or Court must consider whether the employer:
- Having regard to the resources available, sufficiently investigated the allegations against the employee
- Raised his or her concerns with the employee
- Gave the employee a reasonable opportunity to respond to those concerns
- Genuinely considered the employee’s explanation (if any) in relation to the allegations
Other factors may be taken into account by the Authority or the Court. The law also makes clear that an employer’s action cannot be viewed as unjustified solely because of mistakes made in the process, if those mistakes were minor, and they did not result the employee being treated unfairly.
To sum up: communicate, follow up and document. Follow fair and reasonable process. Above all, seek early advice from an employment specialist.