Article by Jane Tweedy, Business Advisor, Western Sydney Business Centre


Having a poor performing staff member can be one of the biggest issues a business owner faces, particularly if they don’t like confrontation. In this blog we’ll give some tips into dealing with staff performance.


You can’t put your head in the sand

You cannot simply avoid the issue, as poor performing staff have a negative impact across the business and outwardly to the end customers. Other staff may feel disgruntled that they are carrying a poor performer, and customers may be getting a terrible service.


The trouble with letting the poor performer continue by avoiding the confrontation, is you risk losing your great employees. They may become frustrated and leave, or you may lose the work they are also hired to complete.


Set performance standards

Before you can assess if someone has failed to meet performance standards, you must have set performance standards. Many small businesses forget to do this step before hiring new employees. Make sure you have a relatively clear job description, and when the person commences, establish performance measures or key performance indicators (KPIs) to assess their performance against regularly.


Staff training

Make sure to give new employees the best opportunity to succeed, by training them adequately to perform their job. Also conduct regular performance discussions on an informal basis, and encourage staff to reach out if they have issues. On a less frequent basis, have a formal sit down performance meeting to review the KPIs, and identify development opportunities.


Lead by example

Make sure that you walk the talk, and lead your team without micromanaging but still focussing on the results delivered. Communicate and display your business values every day.


Show empathy

Performance issues may not be business related. A staff member may be having problems at home, and although we would rather they kept their work and home life separate, in reality this is often very hard. Showing some empathy towards your staff is always a good starting point, rather than jumping on a staff member for poor performance without seeking their input.


Give the employee a chance to assess their own performance and whether it has been adequate. Ask them for suggestions for how their performance can be bought up to standard. If an offence is serious, such as theft or fraud, then instant dismissal may be your only option.


Reward good employees

All business is conducted human to human, so we need to make sure that our staff feel appreciated in the work they do. This can include things like providing bonuses, but it can be simply giving a thanks, sending a card or a little gift to acknowledge something they did well. There can be other non-monetary rewards, for instance you may be able to give them some extra time off, or some other flexibility that may be advantageous to them.


If we treat our employees right, then they will tend to treat our customers right so this makes for a positive, productive business.


If you need help with having discussions with your employees or setting up the performance management framework up, please get in touch with us at Western Sydney Business Centre. We can either advise you on the project or we can connect you with someone that can assist you, either a lawyer or a human resources specialist.


Have you heard of the Business Connect service?

Business Connect is a NSW Government funded service helping intending or existing small business owners and key staff to address any concerns with their business, and learn new skills through workshops. Please make an appointment to see one of our business advisors for up to four hours business advice at no cost with no catches under the NSW Government Business Connect program! Book now!