Dealing with Performance Problems

The purpose of performance management is to help the employee be successful and to draw boundaries for appropriate behavior on the job. At times, there are problems that need to be addressed.

Types of Performance Problems

Quantity of work (untimely completion, limited production)

  • Poor prioritizing, timing, scheduling
  • Lost time
    • Lateness, absenteeism, leaving without permission.
    • Excessive visiting, phone use, break time, use of the Internet.
    • Misuse of sick leave.
  • Slow response to work requests, untimely completion of assignments.
  • Preventable accidents.

Quality of work (failure to meet quality standards)

  • Inaccuracies, errors
  • Failure to meet expectations for product quality, cost or service
  • Customer/client dissatisfaction
  • Spoilage and/or waste of materials
  • Inappropriate or poor work methods

Work Behaviors Which Result in Performance Problems

Inappropriate behaviors (often referred to as poor attitude)

  • Negativism, lack of cooperation, hostility
  • Failure or refusal to follow instructions
  • Unwillingness to take responsibility
  • Insubordination
  • Power games

Resistance to change

  • Unwillingness, refusal or inability to update skills
  • Resistance to policy, procedure, work method changes
  • Lack of flexibility in response to problems

Inappropriate interpersonal relations

  • Inappropriate communication style (over-aggressive, passive)
  • Impatient, inconsiderate, argumentative
  • Destructive humor, sarcasm, horseplay, fighting
  • Inappropriate conflict with others such as customers, coworkers, supervisors

Inappropriate physical behavior

  • Smoking, eating, drinking in inappropriate places
  • Sleeping on the job
  • Alcohol or drug use
  • Problems with personal hygiene
  • Threatening, hostile, or intimidating behaviors

Non-Disciplinary Steps

Non-disciplinary actions are the first place to start when managing a performance problem.

Disciplinary Action

If the non-disciplinary action does not achieve the desired results, there is a formal process which you must go through to discipline an employee. Employees must be given due process as outlined in their contract or governing document. All disciplinary action must be based on just cause.


A disciplinary action may advance to a grievance. Grievance procedures vary by employee group and should be addressed according to the procedures in their governing document.

Assistance with Performance Problems

If you have performance problems in your department that need addressing, the first place to start is with your unit HR Professional or central Human Resources Consultant.