Q: We have a new associate who isn’t meeting our performance expectations and has a bad attitude towards members of the team that they supervise. Although we’ve already counseled this person, we believe it’s time for a more formal discussion. How do we document our conversations, and what are the key points to cover?
A: Employee performance management and discipline is the same process whether the employee is in the 90-day introductory period or not. As part of your employee management, general good practice is to communicate expectations to each employee and manage employee performance fairly and consistently for all employees across the organization.
If you haven’t already, communicate what the performance expectations (e.g., productivity, attendance, or behavior) are for this individual position. Always document coaching, policy violations, performance issues, etc. from the first day to the last. This protects you, the employer, from claims of retaliation and discrimination. Document details like the date of the meeting, discussion topics, the employee’s response, and any follow-up or action items.
For your formal discussion, start with something positive and/or ask them how things are going for them. Taking this tactic when starting a conversation may naturally open the door to a performance review and feedback.
Review the job description and have them sign an acknowledgment of the job description. Then review their strengths and weaknesses in the various duties of the job. Give a specific measure of expectation and tell them where they are currently scoring on that scale and where you want them to be.
Give specific examples of deficiencies, e.g., you received feedback from a customer that the employee appeared rude, distracted, and had more important things to do than help the customer. Then walk them through the situation and give examples of the correct approach, even ask them how they might correct their approach.
Document these expectations and measures and schedule a follow-up in a week to review for improvement. Set a final review, using those measurements for the end of the 90 days. Consider whether the employee should maintain positive relationships with their team as an ongoing measure. Clarify this expectation with the employee.