Dealing With Poor Performance and Misconduct - James Van den Berg


Dealing With Poor Performance and Misconduct - James Van den Berg

Employers often confuse poor performance, incapacity, negligence and misconduct. All these things are real issues an employer needs to deal with effectively. All too often employers find that what they think is the right thing to do does not address the issues and in fact causes additional problems not only on the shop floor, but also the CCMA. How many employers have feel that they are powerless to deal with issues and that they are punished for trying to do the right thing?

To deal with the issues, it is necessary to first understand what these are and what the differences are. From there one can determine the best way to deal with the issue and do what has to be done to improve performance or eliminate unacceptable employee conduct without any dire consequences at the CCMA or Labour Court.

Poor performance is primarily concerned whether the job, for which the employee is employed and paid to do, is done as required. Unlike misconduct, it is not about the behaviour of the person outside of performing the job.
To be able to establish if an issue is one of poor performance and to address it as such it is necessary to measure indicators against acceptable standards. The main indicators to consider are :


Factors that may impact on the indicators are:

-adherence to procedures
-employee efforts (or lack thereof)
-general competence

A rational employer's response to poor performance is to first establish if there are reasons outside the control of an employee for the poor performance, for example, inadequate resources, equipment or material, to perform a task. If the resources are not a problem, the employee should be counselled and be provided with an opportunity for improvement. In some instances the employer may have to provide training and guidance that had not been provided in the first place. Thereafter the employer can resort to disciplinary action to improve performance or remove an employee if the performance does not improve adequately.

Misconduct is all about the behaviour or conduct of an employee on the job in relation to company rules, policies and procedures. It may involve superiors, peers subordinates, customers, suppliers, regulations, legal requirements, etc. Theft, assault or fraud are examples or extreme misconduct. An employee may not perform his or her job, although capable of doing so, as a result of unacceptable attitude, behaviour or conduct. Insolence, insubordination and gross negligence should be treated as misconduct rather than poor performance.

A rational employer will mostly deal with misconduct through discipline. But how to apply discipline without negative consequences at the CCMA? Questions like these are discussed and addressed by the training Bafundise offers. 

Counselling and formal discipline have their place in ensuring that employees adhere to reasonable standards of efficiency and conduct and that those who can't or don't want to do so, are dealt with appropriately. With the necessary know how it is possible to deal with poor performance and misconduct effectively.

James Van den Berg