Deficient performance is that which is less than satisfactory. Proper performance management starts with clear, written performance standards.
Chronic or continuous performance deficiencies exist when an employee fails to meet the minimally acceptable standards of performance for the job over a period of time. Chronic deficient performance often includes time and attendance issues, poor work quality, excessive mistakes, missed deadlines, and low productivity. Other behaviors that may be observable in conjunction with deficient performance are mood swings, attitude changes, and poor working relationships with co-workers.
Situational performance deficiencies exist when an employee occasionally fails to meet the performance levels for the job. Any of the performance deficiencies mentioned previously can occur, but they will generally happen in a scattered or inconsistent way. Situational lapses can often be addressed by prompt supervisory intervention/correction; but if not addressed, or if the employee does not respond to the intervention, such lapses can evolve into chronically deficient performance.
Generally, issues related to deficient performance take one of three forms:
- Lack of job knowledge
- Suitability to the job
- Emotional or external factors
Lack of Job Knowledge can usually be corrected with the transfer of information. The supervisor is responsible to determine if the employee knows how to perform his or her job. If not, training or instruction often can help. Probationary periods are the appropriate time to focus on and determine if an employee has the capacity for the work and if he or she has acquired sufficient knowledge to do the job satisfactorily. Supervisors should use probationary periods properly, whether dealing with lack of job knowledge or other reasons for deficient performance. This means considering extensions of probation where performance is less than satisfactory, but the employee shows promise of being able to attain a satisfactory level of performance within a reasonable period of time; and using the probationary period to separate employees who demonstrate that they are unlikely to improve to a satisfactory level.
Whether an employee is well suited to the job depends, in part, on whether he or she is capable of performing the job’s essential functions. If he or she is capable, the supervisor must hold the employee accountable to produce the desired results. If the employee is not capable, then he or she is not well suited to the job and transfer, demotion, or dismissal may be necessary.
Emotional or external factors may affect the employee’s performance. However, the supervisor should not diagnose or become involved in an employee’s personal problems. If deteriorating job performance is identified, the supervisor should inform the employee of the professional services available from IUEAP
Developing an action plan is essential. When supervisors identify deficient performance, they should discuss the problem with Employee Relations in Human Resources. Together, they can create an action plan to deal with the employee’s performance problem. See Performance Improvement