Supervisors must objectively evaluate employees. All too often, supervisors issue satisfactory performance ratings to employees with substandard performance because they either want to avoid confrontation or do not want to hurt the employee’s chances for promotion. This practice makes it very difficult to take corrective action when the employee’s pattern of poor performance can no longer be tolerated. To prevent this from occurring, supervisors must make sure that all performance, both positive and negative, is recorded and recognized as it arises. Supervisors are responsible for assisting employees with improving their performance through the use of remedial training and development and ongoing informal coaching.

How to effectively address performance-related problems

Dealing with performance problems is a real challenge for any supervisor; nevertheless, it is a key supervisory responsibility, and failure to address poor performance can have a greater impact than you may appreciate. The process begins with an accurate job description, which contains measurable performance standards, appropriate training, and communication of performance expectations followed by ongoing feedback and timely performance evaluations by the supervisor. This process repeats itself throughout the period of employment.

Performance Diagram


Let’s take a look at some common reasons supervisors give for not dealing with performance-related problems:

Dealing with poor performance can be time consuming. My time is better spent supervising my productive employees.

While dealing with poor performance can be time consuming, failing to address poor performance sends a clear message to other employees that you have unique standards for poor performers and that they need not meet your performance expectations. This can result in lowered morale and performance amongst all staff members.

Additionally, as offices experience cutbacks due to budget constraints, it is critical that all employees produce, and ignoring poor performance by some staff members cannot be tolerated; remember: poor performance usually only gets worse over time – rarely does it correct itself without action on the part of the supervisor.

Telling employees that they are not performing satisfactorily is unpleasant and requires skills that I do not possess.

It is very clearly not a pleasant task to tell employees that they are not performing satisfactorily and, as a result, most employees receive little or no negative feedback from their supervisors.; Constructive criticism or coaching and counseling given early and regularly not only often leads to performance improvement but also eliminates the need to consider more formal action that is even more unpleasant. Providing such feedback does not require special skills. In addition to following the steps in this guide, a supervisor may seek assistance or advice from the department’s employee relations or personnel professionals.

If I do have to take a formal performance-based action, it is likely to be appealed and ultimately overturned.

Most performance-based actions are not appealed and, when they are, the overwhelming majority of these types of cases are sustained upon appeal to the Office of Administrative Hearings.


This information is only a summary. Please refer to source documents or contact your personnel office with specific questions.

Recap for addressing and resolving poor performance:

Step 1. Communicating expectations and performance-related problems (coaching/counseling)

Step 2. Providing an opportunity for improvement; and

Step 3. Taking appropriate action if improvement is not shown.