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Performance Manage an Employee out of a Job?

I’m sorry, but as somebody with a postgraduate business qualification I had to slap my head when I heard that a local manager was performance managing an employee out of a job. That’s not what best practice performance management is about… and it’s a shitty way that small business often goes about getting rid of somebody they don’t think is a good organisational fit.

I have no problem with the idea that somebody can be underperformance managed out the back door. Sometimes things just don’t work out, for whatever reason. But that’s not what this guy suggested. Or does. What he suggested was that the employee would be put into a contrived funnel of exit whereby this manager would control and document the inevitable dismissal. Hands up all the UNETHICAL business managers out there who agree with this strategy.

This manager suggested that there would be no effort on his end to upskill, support, train or improve the employee’s performance – the exit door was open and the person would be pushed out of employment with what could only be described as manufactured paperwork. He openly instructed members within the organisation to produce purely negative reports, explicitly omitting positive phrases, to justify the planned dismissal.

Here is what the Fair Work Ombudsman suggests as contemporary business best practice for underperformance management and how that process should go forward – Managing underperformance.

You will read exactly nothing on the Fair Work Ombudsman’s page about the suggested strategy. If you read closely, that document clearly warns business owners and managers that if the underperformance management process is not properly undertaken with due consideration and sufficient opportunity and support for the staff member… there could well be a case for unfair dismissal.

Replacing staff is time consuming and expensive. Firing a human being who may have mouths to feed and a mortgage, or who is suffering depression, or has lacked support, needs further training… is bad management. I’d go a step further, it’s certainly sociopathic behaviour that would make me question that manager’s ability to operate ethically into the future.

The short answer. No, managers should never contrive a scheme to get rid of a bad seed in the organisation without the proper care and process. It’s not good enough to manufacture contrived evidence of underperformance while refusing to offer support to improve. If managers do so… and I know small business does this quite a bit… they are operating unethically; possibly illegally.

It can be a painful process when your emails and text messages turn up in a hearing about unfair dismissal. And it’s a shitty way to treat human beings in the workplace.

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Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark and I live in the Derwent Valley in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a mazer & a yeast farmer (making beer, fruit wine and mead as by-products of continuous improvement in my farming practices). I'm a photographer, although my film cameras are currently silent. I do not tolerate idiots. I do not tolerate bigotry. I do not tolerate excuses. Let's be clear, if you sit with my enemies you my are my enemy for life.

Blogger. Thinker. Brewer. Drinker. Life partner to the amazing and incredible Megan.

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