2018 Performance and Conduct Trends

An often difficult aspect of running a business is dealing with performance and conduct issues. 

No manager I know enjoys dealing with them. In fact, most have many sleepless nights and can get very sick over having to be the ‘bad guy’ – particularly when the matters are serious.

Below is a quick overview on the differences between performance and conduct, and some key trends to watch out for. 

These areas can definitely be complicated as they both have different ways you need to address them so we always recommend getting advice from either us or lawyers to ensure you are protected.   

Performance vs. conduct 

First off, let’s define performance vs. conduct. 

  • Performance in general, relates to the standard of work i.e. quantity, quality, accuracy, pace or timeliness of work or job requirements.
  • Conduct issues on the other hand relate to compliance with work rules.

Performance problems can involve a “can’t do” issue while conduct problems generally involve a “won’t do” or “should not have done” issue.

So, what are some examples of both:


Typically involves an ability to perform the critical requirements of the role to an acceptable level.  Examples include missing important project deadlines, errors, incomplete work or other accuracy issues, poor customer service skills and/or work capacity being below others.


Typically involves breaking a workplace rule, regulation or standard of conduct. Examples include time and leave abuse, tardiness and absenteeism, damaging property, improper or unauthorised release or use of sensitive information, dishonesty such as making false statements or falsifying documents, refusal to follow a direct order, inappropriate use of technology/social media or equipment including downloading material from unauthorised sites, drinking or gambling while working, dress code violations, failure to comply with safety standards, harassment or disruptive or disorderly conduct. 

Some early 2018 trends we are seeing

They definitely seem to be conduct related. Below are four issues emerging as early trends in regards to employees’ conduct to watch out for:

  • Not living the company values 
  • Abusing time
  • Misrepresenting work
  • Abuse or misuse of company assets 

Not living the values. 

First, when I talk about issues with people ‘not living the company values’ what I mean is they are not a good fit to the company ‘vibe’.

(Note: This issue is another reason why it is so important to  clearly define what your company values are, who is a good fit and who is not a good fit for your business. This also provides the employee with the choice of whether they would like to join and be part of your team) 

Typically, the person doesn’t comply with company values by not being team oriented, disrespectful to others or not passionate about the customer or the duties of their role. 

The next biggest issue is the abuse of time. 

This includes: 

  • Coming in late or taking long lunches (with no acknowledgement whatsoever)
  • Calling in sick more than often than they need to (like after a long weekend) or after a ‘big night out’ and then posting they are at the beach getting over their hangover
  • Taking extra long time to handle any appointments (either work-related – delaying getting back to the office or personal-related like a doctor or dentist and purposefully making the times at awkward moments of the day)

From a business perspective, abusing time can be seen in the same way as theft. It’s exactly like a person taking a hundred bucks from petty cash, but the person is just doing it in a different way. 

So – it is a reality that employees need time to do things like go to the bank for loans and have medical appointments that don’t always fit into a lunch break so that does need to be taken into account, however, it is the times when you see a person’s performance lagging and still abusing the time that are the problem.

Misrepresenting work is another hot button issue. 

This is when an employees isn’t doing their job properly, realise they aren’t, but don’t care. Examples include:

  • Saying a sales call is done that hasn’t been completed
  • Saying a checklist is complete when it isn’t
  • Rushing through a call to say it’s been done
  • Not checking their work

Essentially, people lie in order to cover up laziness. 

Finally, with people leaving the company and/or owning a side business, companies worry about assets and intellectual property

There are growing concerns over employees misusing assets for personal gain. Activities that worry business owners: 

  • Not being on the job 100% for the employer
  • Misrepresenting the company to customers
  • Misuse of the company database (for personal use)

How do you recognise performance or conduct issues?

Take a look at your people to see what they doing and if they are doing what they should be. If you don’t have this clearly defined – then that might be a good starting point to see if they are delivering to your expectations.

Ask yourself these questions: 

  • Are you always finishing up someone’s tasks?
  • Do you need to go back and fix an employee’s work?
  • Do you always have to take the lead?
  • Are some people achieving budget and others are not?
  • Is money missing or budget / cash unaccounted for?

If the answer is yes, then that’s typically when you realise there could be some performance or conduct issues that needs to be addressed.

To help, I suggest that every 3 months clients step back and review:

  • What would you like to be focused on and why are you not focused on it?
  • What are you spending your time on that you wish you weren’t? Review if there are any performance or conduct areas to address as a result of this.
  • Look at what you need to do to delegate, automate or eliminate tasks that would make your job easier and allow you to focus on growing the business and building the team.

Obviously a sales target or rather a lack of hitting that target is pretty obvious sign that there are issues. 

The first job is to identifying what the issue is and whether the issue is performance and/or conduct issues so we can then understand how to tackle them. 

If you find performance or conduct issues and you want help dealing with them, contact BespokeHR to confidentially discuss next steps. 

What performance or conduct issues are you seeing this year?