Conduct or Capability

March 13, 2018

Have you ever wondered why a job isn’t being done correctly or to the standard you need and why the person allocated the role isn’t doing what you have asked them to do?  If so, it’s worth evaluating whether it’s a conduct or capability issue. Tim shares his knowledge.

By Tim Frear

With all underperformance, there should be an element of review; an open discussion around the employee’s understanding of the role and the job they have been given. Clear guidance and direction is really important in the effective management of people. Check that you have explained the job clearly and in a way that they understand, using appropriate terminology.

Can’t verses won’t

There’s a great saying out there when it comes to capability or conduct and that is; ‘Can’t do versus won’t do’. Understanding this will help identify underlying causes and reasons for someone’s underperformance.

If the employee can’t do a job right, they will need coaching, guiding or training; in other words, explain and show the employee what is needed to do the job effectively.

Make sure they know what is expected and feedback when they are not doing something correctly (and when they are!).

Effective communication will resolve many issues. Think to yourself, “would I have been able to complete this task correctly on the information I have provided them?” If the answer is yes, then you may have a performance issue with the employee.

If the employee doesn’t want to do the job they have been assigned or doesn’t like the direction of the company, this is different. This falls within the ‘won’t do’ part of the spectrum. Managing this is different to managing those that ‘can’t do’.

When an employee won’t do the job, the most effective course of action is to use your company disciplinary process.

The disciplinary process is there to correct behaviours and align employees with the direction of the business. If there’s no change over time in the performance of the employee, then you may need to use the disciplinary process to remove the employee from the business.

One way to establish whether underperformance is ‘can’t do’ or ‘won’t do’ is to determine whether there has been an effective induction and review of a new hire. Many companies forget about this, but it’s vital to ensure a high performing culture. Think back to your first day and how nervous and lost you felt, and how unsure you were with the new company’s ways of working.

You will need to invest time in specific induction training and coaching, ensuring the employee sees the full picture they are working towards. It’s important to acknowledge reality; the new employee will not normally be as quick as their predecessor and you might need to make allowances to help with this.

If you are satisfied the employee has been given all the right tools and training to complete their job effectively and to the standard expected and they are still underperforming, now is the time to review whether it is a case of can’t do or won’t do.

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