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News

Performance management a perenial issue

Thursday, June 16, 2011

All Human Resource (HR) practitioners love those golden managers who effectively work with their people to illicit the necessary discretionary performance. While we can be fantastic at developing great HR policies and infrastructure it means nothing unless the business has good people leaders in place.

The best HR policies may encourage performance however it is the people leaders who will determine their effectiveness depending on the strategy they take. There is no one right strategy for all situations. People leaders must be equipped with an array of strategies that they can draw on to assist them in managing performance in the workplace, including skills related to:

  • Giving feedback;
  • Setting objectives;
  • Counselling;
  • Coaching;
  • Conflict resolution; and
  • Conducting disciplinary meetings

There will be times when despite the efforts of line managers, underperformance continues or misconduct issues arise and it is expected that line managers will play a role in formalised disciplinary procedures.

If an employee is terminated at the conclusion of a managing for performance process and they claim they have been unfairly dismissed, they must be able to establish to Fair Work Australia (FWA) that the dismissal was harsh, unjust or unreasonable. In considering this FWA will look at:

  • Whether there was a valid reason for the dismissal, such as the employee’s performance or conduct;
  • Whether the person was notified of that reason;
  • If the dismissal related to unsatisfactory performance, whether the employee had been warned about that unsatisfactory performance before the dismissal; and
  • Any other matters that FWA considers relevant.

The recent judgment of the Full Bench of FWA in Parmalat Food Products Pty Ltd v Kasian Wililo, has highlighted that the existence of a valid reason is pivotal to an employer's ability to succeed in defending unfair dismissal claims. The Full Bench of FWA said it is the primary consideration.

The Full Bench also highlighted the importance of complying with the procedural justice requirements, setting out that where such compliance is combined with a valid reason for dismissal "it would only be if significant mitigating factors are present that a conclusion of harshness is open".

As such, people leaders who play a critical role in this process should be afforded the opportunity to understand the legal considerations that apply when it gets to this stage on the performance management spectrum. A good practice is also to involve the people leader throughout the escalation process when a performance management issue becomes contested and to review cases with the people leaders generally when HR or an external consultant become involved.

Peel HR has developed a new “Managing for Performance” program that is aimed at building the confidence of line managers in applying various performance management techniques.  The scope of the program is to develop practical skills in performance management with a focus on addressing and realigning poor performance.

For more information on this program please feel free to contact us or by phoning: 02 4963 7373

Danielle Carney
Principal Consultant