Performance Management for Inclusive Employers

Managing employee performance is an essential part of a manager’s job, especially for inclusive employers.

Managing employee performance is about identifying areas for improvement, and coaching employees to help them achieve their goals. It can also be about progressive discipline and sometimes termination.

Having regular one to one meetings with your employees may be time consuming but it can also be a valuable opportunity to support their growth, build trust and increase employee engagement. Providing employees with a balance of positive feedback with constructive feedback will help to foster a healthy workplace.

Giving someone positive feedback is easy. Providing constructive feedback can be challenging and sometimes uncomfortable.

Below are some tips to help you prepare to deliver feedback.

Be Timely

Give feedback to the employee as close to the incident or situation as possible – don’t save up examples of things that they need to improve upon for a meeting that will happen a month later.

Be Respectful

Have the conversation in private away from other employees.

Telling an employee that they did something wrong in front of their coworkers can create anxiety, embarrassment and reduces trust.

Be Specific

Provide a specific example of behaviour and then be clear about your expectations for improvement.


Give your employee an opportunity to explain the situation from their perspective. This will help you to better understand the situation and what support you need to provide, and the employee will feel heard and respected.

Create a Call to Action

Involve the employee in the improvement process. Ask them to suggest ways to build skills or improve the situation.


Inclusion Tip: Feedback Coaching Sessions

For employees with multiple barriers to employment, informal check-ins that occur throughout the year can be very effective to stay tuned-in and keeping people engaged. Feedback coaching sessions could be monthly, or as required.


Progressive Discipline

When you hire a new employee and set up their employee file, it’s also a good idea to set up a performance tracker.

The tracker is a written record of coaching or performance management conversations, and any issues that may come up. This is useful if coaching conversations move to the progressive discipline stage – you will have a record of what happened, when and how it was addressed at the time. It’s a good idea to operate by the principle, if it isn’t written down, it didn’t happen.

Informal coaching in the moment can be enough to help an employee improve performance. Sometimes you will need to move to a formal progressive discipline process.

A typical progressive discipline process consists of the following steps. Note that these may be repeated and, depending on the severity of the situation, immediate termination may be required.

  1. Verbal Warning
  2. Written Letter of Warning
  3. Termination


Culpable vs. Non-Culpable Behaviour

Before you begin a progressive discipline process, consider if the employee knows what they were doing was wrong.

Do they lack the skills and abilities to do the job? If so, redirect—provide additional training and clear expectations. Maybe reassign to another opportunity within their capabilities.

Was there something going on for the employee personally? Maybe reach out to find out more and how you can help. Did they knowingly break the rules? If yes, it may be time to begin progressive discipline.


Inclusion Tip: Take an Extra Step

Having to fire a person with a disability or barrier to employment is a fear that gets in the way of hiring in the first place… what if it doesn’t work out?! Sometimes, despite best efforts to set someone up for success, it doesn’t work out.

Employers who have hired inclusively take an extra step to check-in with people after they have left to see how they are doing. They also leave the door open whenever possible, for the person to return if their situation improves and they are ready to re-engage.


Suspension or Termination

If a previously identified performance issue recurs, or for situations that are very serious in nature (theft, assault), more significant action may be warranted, ranging from suspension without pay to termination from employment.

Termination of employment is considered a serious action to take and the decision is usually based on many factors, including:

  • The severity of the incident and effect of the incident on others.
  • Impact on the reputation and profitability of the company.
  • Whether or not the employment relationship has been severely jeopardized by the actions of the employee.
  • Whether or not the employee was found to be honest in their discussions.
  • Whether or not there has been any previous corrective action.
  • Whether or not the employee was on probation, or final conditions of employment.
  • Whether or not the employee demonstrated remorse and regret for their actions.

The decision to suspend or terminate an employee should be taken very seriously, handled with care and documented, with a copy placed on the employee’s HR file.


Inclusion Tip: Attendance, Seek to Understand

Supportive employers may approach attendance issues differently, especially with employees who live with multiple barriers to employment.

While organizations may differ in their policies, what they do share is a consistent approach. It’s important that when an employee fails to show up or exhibits what you perceive to be bad behaviour, that you ask them about it. Seek to understand the situation first and then decide upon the appropriate next steps.


This chapter is an excerpt from the B2B Untapped Talent Guide to Innovative Hiring and Retention.

Available for download

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