Conduct and performance conversations

Use this guide to ensure you have a calm, structured conversation with your employee about poor conduct or performance. Apply this structure if you’re performance managing an employee or initiating disciplinary action. Do not use this guide for regular performance conversations. See Positive management practices instead.

Conversation guide

Complete these in order and allow your employee time to comment after each step.

Step 1: Seek input

Ask your employee if they're ok.

If it's a one-off situation in which a personal issue is affecting your employee’s behaviour or performance, offer support. Ask them if they need to go home. End the discussion if they do.

Encourage them to access your agency’s employee assistance program (if appropriate).

Step 2: Describe the situation

Use specific examples and evidence. The concern might be about their:

  • quality of work (e.g. making errors in documents or showing poor judgement)
  • quantity of work (e.g. not meeting deadlines or contributing less than expected)
  • lack of respect for others (e.g. exhibiting behaviours that are inconsistent with their obligations under the Code of Conduct)
  • timeliness (e.g. being late or frequently absent)
  • compliance with instructions, procedures or policy (e.g. not notifying of absence or lateness, or not keeping adequate records).

Step 3: Describe the consequences

Explain the actual or potential impact. There could be impacts to individuals, teams, agencies, Queenslanders etc.

Step 4: Outline the change required

Explain what's needed from them and why. Use phrases such as:

  • I want you to stop…
  • I want you to start…
  • I want you to keep doing…
  • I want you to do more…
  • I want you to do less….

Step 5: Check understanding

Listen to the employee and any points they raise. Check if there are any barriers or issues preventing them from making the change.

Step 6: Seek input

Ask the employee for suggestions and ideas about how they'll achieve the change. Check if they need support.

Step 7: Outline the next steps

Summarise the ideas, support, strategies and actions. Encourage the employee to access your agency’s employee assistance program (if appropriate).

Step 8: Seek further input

Ask the employee for further comments and thoughts.

After the conversation

Provide a written summary of what you’ve discussed for your employee to keep as a record. Your summary should:

  • explain what’s expected
  • reinforce the need for development
  • provide evidence of the support you’ve provided
  • outline the next steps if the employee’s behaviour or performance does not improve (e.g. disciplinary action).