Action Steps To Identify and Handle Employee Job Performance Problems

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Be Observant:

The sooner a problem is identified, the sooner it can be corrected. If you see a change in behavior or work performance, don’t make assumptions about the cause of the problem. Continue to observe employee behavior and determine the effects of those behaviors on job performance. Look for patterns.

  • Observable Behaviors/Effects of Job Performance: Increase in absenteeism or tardiness; decrease in productivity and quality; increase in errors; rise in accident rates; deteriorating coworker relationships; resistant to change; turnover; they tell you they have a problem.


Job performance problems and other work-related conduct needs to be documented. Keep a written record that explains what you have observed.

  • Be Specific: Include names of persons involved, the time, the date, what occurred, and what actions were taken.
  • Focus on job performance, not your opinions: Objective documentation is critical when addressing job performance.

Address Job Performance Problems

Once you have documented the job performance problem, you should meet with the employee to discuss what you have seen.

  • Be Prepared: Schedule an appointment – private place, no distractions or interruptions.
  • Stick to the Issue: Stay focused on documented job performance. Your goal is to discuss and find solutions to the job performance problem.
  • Encourage Improvement: Let the employee know you believe they can make positive changes.
  • Plan of Action: (Be Specific and include the Employee Assistance Program (EAP)): State your expectations for improved behaviors. Be specific about behavior and time line. Ask for acknowledgement of problem and agreement to make corrective change. Offer the EAP.
  •  Consequences: (Protect yourself and the employee’s rights by consistently following your organizations’ disciplinary procedures if an employee’s job performance or conduct does not improve.) Inform the employee of the consequences as outlined in the organizations’ disciplinary procedures and again affirm your belief in the employee’s ability to make the necessary changes, negating any further action.

Follow Up

Follow up ensures that the employee keeps the agreement and makes improvements. Continue to observe and document the employee’s job performance and schedule meetings to review progress and any additional steps needed.

  • When the employee’s job performance has improved, and no further disciplinary action is needed, you may want to continue monitoring progress until you are sure the performance problem is completely resolved.
  • When the employee’s job performance has not improved, or if the employee refuses to acknowledge or correct behaviors, document these events and inform the employee of your next step. Inform the employee that help is available and refer to the EAP.