How to manage a disciplinary performance review

Published: 24 March 2021

Few managers enjoy the prospect of having to deal with an employee’s poor performance or misconduct.

But if handled correctly, a performance review meeting can turn a negative situation into an opportunity for employee growth by providing goal-focused feedback.

By using the AMCA Employer Toolkit – one of the resources available to AMCA members - HVAC employers can learn how to effectively manage underperforming members of their team.

Key principles 

Individual performance issues in the workplace can occur for a variety of reasons. An employee might struggle to understand the job required of them or suffer from a poor work environment. They might be experiencing communication issues with their colleagues, or problems in their personal life.

The performance review process works best in an environment of honesty, so HVAC managers should encourage open lines of communication at all times. 

Treating employees fairly, acting on decisions promptly, and ensuring all meetings are recorded thoroughly and accurately are essential throughout the process, so managers should first consult the relevant Enterprise Agreement and workplace policies.

Conducting a performance review 

The first step is to arrange a time for the manager and employee, together with an HR representative or employee support person if required, to discuss the issue.

During the meeting, the manager should clearly outline the nature of the concern, providing examples where possible.

The employee should be informed about the criteria for measuring required improvements in performance or behaviour.

The manager should ascertain that the employee understands the nature of the problem and the recommended solution, and they should be given the opportunity to respond to any issues.

Together, the manager and employee should discuss how any improvements will be made, and an action plan drawn up and implemented. 

An accurate record of the meeting should be kept by the manager.

Launching disciplinary action 

The form of response or action taken will vary depending upon the circumstances of each case, the employee’s responses, and whether the employee has received prior warnings in relation to their performance or conduct. 

In serious cases, a first warning may also constitute a final written warning or even termination without notice, at the discretion of the business. 

If action is deemed appropriate, a subsequent meeting should be held with the manager, employee, and employee support person. 

During the meeting:

  • The employee should be informed of the outcome of the initial discussion, what disciplinary action is going to be taken, and that insufficient improvement in their behaviour or performance could lead to further disciplinary proceedings or termination
  • A reasonable review period should be established
  • The manager should issue the employee with formal notification of the appropriate course action, which might include a warning letter

Again, it is vital a full written record is kept of the meeting and a copy kept in the employee’s file. 

Where there is evidence of work performance or conduct not improving to the expected level, or if it is deteriorating, the manager may proceed with further disciplinary action. 

Employees who are not satisfied with the way the situation has been handled should be directed to the relevant policies and Enterprise Agreement.

ACMA members can find more information on how to successfully handle performance reviews and disciplinary action in the AMCA Employer Toolkit, including performance management plans and other useful templates.