Management action is a course of local action that is reasonably open to a manager to support and correct situations of employee conflict, poor performance or unacceptable behaviours at the earliest possible opportunity.
When deciding how to proceed when managing conduct or performance matters, a number of types of management action can be considered to support resolution.
Types of management action
Regular and constructive feedback to an employee is the most effective management action that can occur for the early correction of performance or conduct matters. Establishing a culture where employees expect and receive regular feedback is vitally important for managers and can be achieved by regular discussions where performance strengths are recognised as well as areas for improvement and development.
See Conduct a structured discussion for further information.
In every case, a feedback conversation should be focused on ensuring correction and detailing the supports placed around the employee to achieve improvement, and not punitive in nature.
If feedback conversations are required to be repeated about the same or similar issue/s, the conversation should be documented in an email to the employee outlining the topics discussed and outcomes agreed.
Conflict in the workplace can arise for a variety of reasons, but usually stems from one person’s view of another’s behaviour, thinking or intentions. Conflict can occur where there is poor communication or behaviour between employees and/or managers, differences in values, opinion or culture or there are personality differences.
A discussion facilitated by a manager between employees experiencing conflict can be an effective tool to assist the employees in conflict to understand the other’s view and reach an agreement on how to move forward harmoniously. To be successful, an open mind and a genuine willingness to participate will be necessary.
When facilitating a discussion between two employees experiencing conflict, the manager should ensure they are prepared for the discussion by understanding:
- the point of view of each of the participants in the conversation.
- what outcome each participant hopes to achieve from the conversation.
- what outcome can be supported by the workplace.
As well as working through matters of existing conflict, a facilitated discussion is an opportunity for a manager to provide coaching and support to employees in order to self-manage conflict situations that arise in future.
A facilitated discussion would achieve the most success in circumstances where there is no history of conflict between the employees and each participant is willing to work together to come to an agreed outcome.
Mediation is an opportunity for employees to work to resolve a conflict matter with an independent and unbiased third party mediator. Mediation assists in assessing problems, and helping participants to work through these to come to a workable solution. Mediation provides a framework to establish a workplace relationship that is harmonious and productive, and provides an agreed set of behaviours for each employee as a performance standard moving forward. To be successful, an open mind and a genuine willingness to participate will be necessary.
Mediation may be appropriate in conflict matters that are more serious or where other management actions have not been successful in resolving the conflict.
Providing additional training or re-training can support improvement in an employee's performance. Training can be specific to the requirements of the role or it can be more general in nature and focus on supporting improved conduct and/or performance from the employee. Additional training should be focused and relevant to the circumstances of the matter. Training or re-training can involve:
- attendance at relevant courses or workshops.
- shadowing another employee in the workplace.
- task specific training.
- self-paced learning through the access of resources such as articles, journals, case studies etc.
Closer supervision of an employee or group of employees with conduct or performance concerns allows a manager or supervisor to better monitor the workplace, support employees involved, identify issues early and put strategies in place to assist as issues arise.
Increased supervision in a workplace can also assist a manager in taking a preventative approach to conflict by allowing them to identify areas where conduct or performance issues may occur and put in place supports to assist employees to self-correct.
It may at times be appropriate to restrict or remove some duties from an employee to assist in correcting performance or conduct concerns, until such time as the manager is satisfied that the employee can perform the duties to an adequate level. This should be considered for a short term period only to minimise any risk, and should not be considered on a long term or permanent basis to manage underperformance. When this option is considered, supports such as training or re-training should also be put in place to assist the employee to achieve the required standard.
A mentoring or buddying strategy involves a manager facilitating a coaching relationship between an employee with performance concerns and a more experienced or skilled employee. This is most effective where the employee voluntarily participates in the mentoring process and is an option that should be utilised to support an employee improving in a specific area with a defined plan and timeframe for the mentorship to occur.
A more formal process put in place to support improvement of performance for an employee. This process should occur where there is an established pattern of concerns regarding an employee's conduct or performance where informal actions have not brought about improvement. A performance improvement process should identify specific areas of concern, identify supports to assist development and set out clear and measurable standards for the employee to achieve within a defined short term timeframe. For more information on performance improvement processes, managers should seek the support and guidance of their local HR advisor.