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The difference between managing employee performance and behaviour

When addressing an issue with an employee, it can be helpful for managers to know the difference between performance and behaviour. We'll explore the difference between employee performance and behaviour.
Kerrie-Anne Chinn, Content & Editorial Manager

At some point, all managers will be faced with an employee who is difficult to deal with, has trouble working with colleagues, or continually fails to hit their KPIs and deliver.

Knowing how to deal with these kinds of issues can be tricky. But addressing challenging employee behaviour should be a top priority for employers and managers.

It’s really important to nip any problems in the bud sooner rather than later, instead of assuming (or hoping!) that poor performance or behaviour will improve in time.

When addressing an issue with an employee, it can be helpful for managers to know the difference between performance and behaviour. Why is it so important to distinguish between the two?

Because differentiating between the two will affect the way in which you manage the situation.

Let’s look at this now.

Are you dealing with poor performance or behaviour?

Anna Pannuzzo, from HR consultancy Workplace Plus, explains how managers can tell the difference between a performance issue and a behaviour issue.

Telling the difference “is not easy,” admits Pannuzzo.

“Performance is generally aligned to an employee’s skills, abilities, and knowledge,” she explains.

In contrast, issues such as constantly being late, or sending an inappropriate email to a colleague, are behaviour issues.

Sometimes, an issue can be both performance and behavioural. For example, if part of your position description is to attend certain meetings, skipping out on those meetings will impact your deliverables and KPIs. In this way, an employee’s behaviour is having a negative effect on their job performance.

Negative behaviour or attitude can be trickier to address and fix than performance and skill-based problems. When individual staff members are displaying challenging behaviour at work, it impacts the organisation as a whole. In addition to stress and conflict, it can result in poor team performance, low productivity, and a negative work environment.

If left unchecked, challenging employee behaviour can also lead to higher absenteeism and staff turnover, affecting your company’s reputation and bottom line.

How to address issues with an employee

So what can you do to address poor performance or behavioural issues in the workplace?

Whether it’s performance or behaviour, it’s vital that employers and managers deal with it, quickly and professionally. Managers need to identify the expectations of what’s required, have a discussion and provide feedback if things aren’t being delivered accordingly.

Of course, being in a management position doesn’t mean that you’re instantly an expert on knowing how to raise issues with staff or give critical feedback. But rather than avoiding this part of your job, it’s important to get it done. In this way, leadership comes with a price – and a significant part of that price is the responsibility to give feedback, coach and address the performance of any team member that does not measure up to expectations. Doing this with your employees is also an opportunity for them to grow and learn.

The first step is to get it clear in your head whether the employee’s actions are coming from a performance or behavioural issue. This is a really important step to take before you can proceed to manage the problem.

  • Managing Employee Performance

If it is a skills issue, and therefore performance, then you’ll need to think about providing further training to your employee. You might also consider a mentoring or coaching solution. There may be limitations with inadequate tools, or software, or other problems with the workplace environment – these can then be reviewed and appropriately addressed. Similarly, if an employee is struggling to meet deadlines because of limited time, restructuring work tasks could be a solution. In all of these scenarios, you can see that it is not the behaviour or attitude of the employee that is the problem.

  • Managing Employee Behaviour

In terms of misconduct, or behavioural issues, this can be harder to address and fix. Ensure that you have a current position description that clearly outlines the duties of the position and the performance and behavioural expectations of the job. It’s important to have this serious discussion with the employee about their behaviour, so you can then identify a way to resolve it and come up with strategies to improve the situation.

In all cases, it’s also important to acknowledge that an employee may have personal or health problems that are affecting their ability to deliver. If so, Employee Assistance (EAP) counselling may be a good solution, to get to the bottom of the problem while providing your team member with the help they need.

If you’re looking for more guidance on this topic, there are plenty of courses on the Go1 platform that will help you better understand employee behaviour and give you the confidence you need to address any issues before they get out of hand.

For more insights, be sure to subscribe to the Go1 newsletter to stay on top of all the latest L&D trends. Or, you can book a demo today to find out how Go1 can help with your team’s learning needs.

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