A recurring theme in successful resolution of performance problems is that taking action early is better than waiting. Early communication, early feedback (positive and negative), and if appropriate, early termination during a probationary or trial period are all ways to prevent future performance problems.
However, performance problems do arise. While they most commonly are highlighted at performance evaluation time, it is management’s responsibility to continually monitor employee performance and take steps to help the employee improve that performance and to take action if the employee cannot or will not improve.
Whether a formal disciplinary action—and a possible appeal—happens or not, it’s wise to keep track of specific examples of poor performance on work assignments. Note how you expressed your performance expectations and how the employee responded to the counseling. If an opportunity to improve period begins, make notes of all routine meetings with the employee in that time. In addition, you may need to keep a record of when assignments were given to the employee and what instructions were provided.
OPM resources for dealing with poor performers are at www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/performance-management/performance-management-cycle/monitor-ing/dealing-with-the-marginal-performer.
The best way for supervisors to handle poor performance issues is to take action to avoid performance problems before they occur.