What is management action?

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.

Management action should not be considered as disciplinary by its nature, but can be undertaken in conjunction with, or instead of, the imposition of a disciplinary penalty in conduct or performance matters. In most circumstances, it is preferable that management action is considered as the first step in managing conduct or performance matters in the workplace.

What are the benefits of management action?

A decision to take management action to achieve the early and prompt resolution of conduct and performance matters has tangible benefits to the wellbeing of all employees involved, their managers and the workplace as a whole. These benefits include:

  • early opportunities for employees to self-correct and improve performance.
  • correction of unacceptable behaviour.
  • prevention of future instances of conflict or poor performance.
  • preservation of productive working relationships between employees experiencing conflict.
  • avoiding unnecessary and protracted reviews or investigations into conflict matters.
  • increased engagement of employees in the process through the intervention and support of a manager who has a detailed knowledge of their employees and an understanding of what supports will work best to assist.

When to take management action

Under the Public Service Act 2008 (PS Act) managers must:

  • proactively manage the work performance and personal conduct of employees under their management, and
  • take prompt and appropriate action to address instances of unacceptable work performance or personal conduct.

Managers should consider whether management action is appropriate when first they become aware of a conduct or performance issue. For example, if an employee is not performing to an adequate standard, managers should provide timely and constructive feedback to allow the employee to self-correct, rather than wait until their next formal performance review to raise their concerns.

Management action can also take place at the closure of a disciplinary process, where it has either been determined by the delegate that a discipline penalty will not be applied, though some corrective action needs to occur, or that a discipline penalty will be applied and other corrective actions also need to occur.

When not to take management action

In some circumstances, it will not be appropriate for management action to be taken. These include matters where there is a reasonable suspicion of corrupt conduct that that will require referral to the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC). In these instances, managers should await instruction from their HR Manager or delegate on whether they can proceed with management action.

It is also not appropriate to consider management action in circumstances where:

  • the alleged conduct and/or performance may be considered:
  • to be sexual or other harassment.
  • to constitute workplace bullying.
  • to constitute misconduct as defined in section 187 of the PS Act.
  • to be a criminal offence.
  • as wilful, reckless or malicious.
  • to pose a significant risk to work health and safety.
  • there have been serious and significant impacts on the workplace or another person as a result of the conduct and/or performance.
  • there is a history of similar conduct or performance where previous management action has not been successful in correcting the performance or conduct.

In these instances, it may be more appropriate to consider the implementation of a formal process such as an investigation or discipline process due to the seriousness of the matter or allegations.

Documenting the management action taken

It is important to document actions taken when dealing with a matter relating to conduct or performance. At a minimum, the documentation should outline in detail:

  • a description of the matter.
  • what steps were taken to deal with the matter.
  • the outcomes once the steps have been taken.

Records of conversations with employees who are not performing at the required standard should also be kept if an informal conversation has failed to improve performance. It is suggested that the record include details of the meeting, topics discussed, supports to be put in place and outcomes agreed.  Emailing the employee the meeting summary is one of the easiest ways of documenting the discussion. It is important to note that the employee should be provided with an opportunity to comment on the summary.

See Conduct a structured discussion for further information.

Records of management action will be important for a manager to demonstrate how they have dealt with a matter. Where the management action has not been successful in resolving the concern, records of action/s taken will support escalation to a more formal process.

More information