By Etienne Pretorius Tuesday, 27 November 2018

South African legislation is very clear about methods used to exit an employee. There can only be three grounds, namely conduct of the employee, the capacity of the employee, and the operational requirements of the employer’s business. Yet time and again I encounter employers who try methods to circumvent what is deemed fair procedure. There is a lot to say regarding grounds for dismissal, but I prefer taking a different path in this article.

The onus is on the employer to ensure an employee agreement exists. Then in doing so there is subsequently the responsibility to ensure that the business succeeds utilizing that person as a resource. In South Africa the problem of low productivity and the ‘rights entitlement’ attitude is very frustrating for the employer. So, it is the employee’s responsibility to honour their employment contract, and work with the hand that feeds them.

The secret to ensure the employee delivers is ‘consistency’.  If the employee does not deliver then use ‘performance management’ systems. I will elaborate now. But first a comment. Performance management is admittedly a frustrating and laborious process. It is tempting to label the employee as unproductive or rebellious and not a fit for the company. The normal decision after this conclusion is to just exit them. However, it’s imperative that the employer takes the moral high ground. A slack employee will remain that, slack. Pursue with diligence the management of people’s performance and you will find that the good performers will appreciate your effort and give you more.

  1. Performance management needs to adopt a SMART stance when goal setting.

Specific – What do you want to achieve? Be objective based, explaining as briefly, but as clearly as possible what the need is.

Measurable – Concrete evidence is crucial to measuring success. You need to be able to count something without being subjective.

Attainable – Realistic goals will motivate good performers and keep marginalised performers accountable. The goal cannot be manipulative if its going to be effective. Of course, a bit of pressure is often constructive so stretch goals will take a person out of the comfort zone and ensure they are learning and developing continuously.

Relevant – Goals need to be aligned with business objectives. Something that doesn’t contribute to the general health of the business is not constructive.

Time focused – Time targets are adjustable if that can be justified. Being reasonable is being fair. However, this shouldn’t be a habit forming in the culture of the business.

  1. Performance management requires regular and scheduled update meetings. So, set a date for the next review and don’t change it. Hold yourself and the employee accountable. Diarise it.
  2. Performance management cannot be seen as punitive. Its there to assist the Company achieve stated goals.

Driving strategic direction and organizational change – continuous learning and organizational development will ensure competitive advantage is retained.

Focusing people on activities assisting in achieving specific goals – One person cannot do everything, so by focusing people on specific functions the work gets done.

Promoting individual and team growth, participation and commitment – To ensure the focused activity doesn’t promote a need to build hierarchical structures there needs to be an overlap between people’s activities. Functions remain focused and teams stretch into other people’s areas of activity.

Consistency stretches to a number of other good business practices which cannot be covered now, example recruitment and selection. Being consistent and developing discipline in these areas will bring a long-term reward and benefit to the company. It will also facilitate a healthy relational growth between management and workforce.

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