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Poor Performance Meeting vs Disciplinary meetings – Understanding the Difference.

Employers have many things to deal with on a day-to-day basis in the workplace. Two key areas that employers often see but are not always sure of the best way to manage are:

  • Poor performance by an employee; and
  • Inappropriate conduct/misconduct.

When dealing with both poor performance and misconduct, you need to ensure you act in a timely manner without unreasonable delay, manage the process with consistency and ensure the employee is fairly heard and provided with an opportunity to respond. Ensuring these criteria are met along with the below guidelines will assist in reducing the risk of having an unfair dismissal case being brought against you.

Poor Performance:

Poor performance is when an employee is not performing the duties of their position at the required level. There are numerous reasons as to why an employee is underperforming. This can range from lack of training, poor communication, not understanding what is expected of them, distractions in the workplace or in their personal life or possibly that they are not actually capable of completing the duties required of them. When addressing poor performance:

  1. Inform the employee of their poor performance – being clear on what is not meeting the required standard, outline what improvement is necessary and discuss why the required standard is not being met. This can be done by referring to the employee’s position description which should outline clear roles and responsibilities.
  2. Set clear timeframes for improvement and clearly document what is expected within those timeframes, offering an opportunity for additional training and support if required.
  3. Outline the potential consequences should performance not improve, within the set timeframe, which could potentially be termination; and
  4. Follow through, monitor and review performance and ensure any timeframes set are met and feedback is provided on whether expectations have been met or not.


Misconduct can occur when you do not believe that an employee has behaved in an appropriate manner, including breaching the Company’s policies and procedures. Examples of misconduct can include fighting in the workplace, offensive language, conducting personal phone calls during work time, taking safety risks or unacceptable behavior at work functions.

When the employer believes that an employee has conducted themselves inappropriately, an investigation needs to occur and include the following steps:

  1. Investigate the alleged misconduct by gathering all relevant information required through a thorough and objective investigation process.
  2. Meet with the employee, presenting the information on the alleged misconduct, giving the employee the opportunity to respond. During this meeting you should be attempting to determine whether there was any reasonable explanation for the alleged misconduct and whether any further investigation needs to occur.
  3. Make a determination* on the alleged misconduct considering the severity in which the employee should be disciplined i.e. counselling, written warning or termination; and
  4. Meet with the employee advising on the decided outcome, following due process at all times.

*Determining the disciplinary action to take into consideration the results of the investigation, ensure that during all meetings, poor performance and misconduct, that could result in possible termination of employment; you provide the employee the right to have a support person present.

Contact HRM today to find out how we can assist you with management of your poor performance and misconduct meetings.

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