Employers who work at best practice benefit from motivated staff that are performing at their best. These employers also understand that when issues concerning underperformance are not addressed and managed both appropriately and sensitively, it can lead to unhealthy and unproductive outcomes that may affect the entire workplace.

This basic application performance management software guide helps explain what is meant by underperformance and why this happens. It sets out an easy to follow five-step plan to help employers and employees address and manage issues about underperformance.

There is also a checklist to assist best practice employers. This guide illustrates best practice when it comes to managing underperformance. For specific information regarding your minimum legal obligations, contact the organisations listed under the ‘For more information’ section at the end of this guide.

Software: Why Use It?

Establishing effective performance management systems can have significant benefits for your business, as it can lead to happier, more motivated and better performing employees. Reviewing, refining and implementing performance management systems are ways of helping achieve these significant benefits.

Software Types

High performing organizations use tools and processes to continuously systematically measure and improve their results when providing human and social services.

They use a dashboard-style reporting system to show tangible progress for each participant, family member, and program, and must be able to show successful outcomes for each program.

Our Efforts to Outcomes (ETO™) is a web-based performance management software was designed with exactly these organizational needs in mind. ETO software is not just another CRM software or a case management system. It is a system with a rich set of tools built to helps non profit and government organizations to quickly and easily track efforts, outcomes, and progress as part of a performance management approach to human and social services.

While ETO software does have the typical functionality you would find in a CRM or client management database, it also comes with very specific assessment and measurement systems that can be used to very clearly understand the impact of your work.

Monitoring Software

Aternity. Headquartered in Westborough, Mass., Aternity was founded in 2004; its R&D group is based in Israel. Aternity provides end user experience management solutions that are physical- and virtual desktop-based. Aternity’s Frontline Performance Intelligence platform (FPI) is agent-based and monitors any application by passively “listening” for application activity signatures at the desktop operating system level. Aternity’s FPI provides a real-time analytics and event
correlation engine. An autonomic performance profile or baseline is created for every application performance metric collected. These baselines are automatically split by location, subnet, configuration, LDAP-defined department. When performance deviates from the baseline, it’s automatically detected and the probable cause identified. The Aternity FPI platform provides dynamic visualization of desktop, application, and user performance, including reports and drilldown dashboards for: performance comparison by application, business process, location, server, and desktop. Analysis is provided for virtualized versus physical desktop performance, application error, quality of service, SLA, application usage analysis, and usagebased software licensing. Aternity is sold directly or through partners such as system integrators or value-added resellers.

Heroix. Based in Braintree, Mass., Heroix has several decades of experience in providing availability and performance management software. Longitude is the application performance management solution. Heroix Longitude monitors end user experience using an active agent. Element monitoring is provided through specific sensors. Heroix provides agentless sensors to monitor Web servers and standard applications such as Exchange. Longitude monitors Oracle, SQL, and mySQL
databases, as well as most of the common elements for networks and servers. Heroix provides an analytical event dashboard and a service-level dashboard. Longitude is sold as a single bundle, with different levels of functionality: Longitude Standard
Edition (free for up to 25 devices), Longitude Professional Edition, Longitude Cloud Edition, and Longitude Enterprise Edition.

Knoa. Knoa specializes in end user performance and quality of service measurement. Founded in 2003, the company is headquartered in New York City and is privately funded. Knoa’s agent powers a robust architecture for comprehensive real-time monitoring of the end user’s environment, experience, and behavior. Knoa’s agent delivers out-of-the-box monitoring with automated application discovery and agent configuration. Knoa’s monitoring adapts to application changes and discovers new transactions, processes, or user activities. Knoa has a global reseller agreement with SAP and other large vendors. Knoa’s end user monitoring solutions are priced on the basis of the number of monitored end users. The price for a perpetual license for each monitored end user ranges from $50 to $250, based on the monitoring target (e.g., desktop, application-agnostic monitoring, or target application monitoring).

ServicePilot Technologies. Based in France with a US office in Houston, ServicePilot provides a performance management solution based on network and application delivery component data collection. This complete solution combines fault management, performance management, service-level management, and capacity planning through a unique platform. ServicePilot ISM is a fully integrated IT management solution that collects, consolidates, and correlates information from all IP network components to manage the performance of critical applications. ServicePilot ISM monitors end user experience with active agents, passive agents, and appliances. ServicePilot ISM monitors the quality of service (QoS) parameters
and integrates with other management technologies such as Microsoft MOM. ISM offers an SDK and API for communicating with external application monitors. The ServicePilot NBA appliance family provides an application-oriented view of the network traffic and application performances. ServicePilot NBA 700 provides NetFlow, jFlow, and sFlow collectors and analysis, and ServicePilot NBA 300v provides visibility into the virtual environment. ServicePilot NBA for z/OS monitors the transaction traffic with IBM mainframes. The ServicePilot NBA appliances can be integrated into the ServicePilot ISM solution. ServicePilot ISM provides a predictive analysis capability and a fully configurable Web-based reporting dashboard that can be customized according to the user role. ServicePilot ISM is sold as a basic foundation and five different bundles (MSP, VoIP, Lite, Professional, and Enterprise). ServicePilot NBA for z/OS, ServicePilot NBA 700, and ServicePilot NBA 300v have separate licenses.

Visual Network Systems. Based in Colorado Springs, Colo., Visual Network Systems, formerly Fluke Networks Systems, is part of the Danaher Corporation. Visual Network Systems was created, separate of Fluke Networks, to take advantage of the application performance management market opportunity. The company’s flagship solution, Visual Performance Manager (VPM), is a unified system for the management of application, network, and VoIP performance. VPM collects data from sources such as the Application Performance Appliance (APA) and Network Performance Appliance (NPA) and can incorporate third-party data such as Cisco WAAS. It can also leverage data from existing standalone products such as NetAlly, NetFlow Tracker, and Visual UpTime Select. The solution can address end user performance monitoring through an active test (NetAlly Traffic Agent), a passive downloadable agent (NetAlly Dynamic Traffic Agent) for browser-based applications, or a passive network monitoring appliance (Application Performance Appliance). VPM provides the capability to configure any number of n-tier applications as a collection of standard or customer applications for which dependencies will be automatically determined in the VPM Data Model. These transactions can then be navigated and visualized using the VPM Transaction Viewer. The VPM domain data model enables users to view related metrics in the context of applications, sites, servers, and interfaces.

Database performance is monitored through the APA, which records metrics on all transactions performed on the databases. VPM provides root-cause analysis capability by supporting a set of problem-specific workflows and providing associated information for infrastructure and application troubleshooting. VPM offers a customizable, role-based dashboard that can be built from panels and data provided by VPM and can also include external Web application content. VPM is offered as a single bundle (professional suite or enterprise suite) or as multiple SKUs.

Information from Forrester Research, Inc.

What is Underperformance?

Underperformance or poor performance can be exhibited in the following ways:

  • unsatisfactory work performance, that is, a failure to perform the duties of the position or to perform them to the standard required
  • non-compliance with workplace policies,
    rules or procedures
  • unacceptable behaviour in the workplace
  • disruptive or negative behaviour that impacts
    on co-workers.

Underperformance is not the same as misconduct. Misconduct is very serious behaviour such as theft or assault which may warrant instant dismissal. In cases of misconduct employers should seek specific advice about how to proceed before taking any action.

Reasons For Underperformance

There are many reasons why an employee may perform poorly. Some of the common reasons include:

  • an employee doesn’t know what is expected because goals and/or standards or workplace policies and consequences are not clear (or have not been set)
  • interpersonal differences
  • there is a mismatch between an employee’s capabilities and the job they are required to undertake, or the employee does not have the knowledge or skills to do the job expected of them
  • an employee does not know whether they are doing a good job because there is no counselling or feedback on their performance
  • lack of personal motivation, low morale in the workplace and/or poor work environment
  • personal issues such as family stress, physical and/or mental health problems or problems with drugs or alcohol
  • cultural misunderstandings
  • workplace bullying.

Underperformance should be dealt with promptly and appropriately by an employer, as employees are often unaware they are not performing well and so are unlikely to change their performance. Best practice employers understand that issues that are not addressed promptly also have the potential to become more serious over time. This can have a negative effect on the business as a whole as it can affect the productivity and performance of the entire workplace.

Application Performance Management Software Features

Step 1 – Identify the problem

It is important to understand the key drivers of performance or underperformance within the workforce.

It is also important to correctly and specifically identify the problem. Some common reasons for underperformance are identified later in this guide.

Step 2 – Assess and analyse the problem

The employer should determine:

  • how serious the problem is
  • how long the problem has existed, and
  • how wide the gap is between what is expected and what is being delivered.

Once the problem has been identified and assessed, the employer should organise a meeting with the employee to discuss the problem.

The employer should let the employee know the purpose of the meeting in advance so they can adequately prepare for the meeting.

The employee should be allowed to bring a support person of their choice or a union representative to the meeting. Employers working at best practice will inform the employee that they can bring a support person as a matter of process.

Step 3 – Meet with the employee to discuss the problem

It is important that the meeting takes place in private and in an environment that is comfortable and non-threatening, away from distractions and interruptions.

The employer should begin by holding a discussion with the employee to explain the problem in specific terms.  From this conversation, the employee should be able to clearly understand:

  • what the problem is
  • why it is a problem
  • how it impacts on the workplace, and
  • why there is a concern.

The employer should discuss the outcomes they wish to achieve from the meeting.

The meeting should be an open discussion and the employee should have an opportunity to have their point of view heard and duly considered. The employer should listen to the explanation of why the problem has occurred or to any other comments the employee makes.

When having this type of meeting, it may be useful in facilitating discussion to refer to recent positive things that the employee has done to show them that you also recognise and appreciate their strengths.

Key points for employers to remember when holding the meeting are to:

  • talk about the issue and not the person
  • explore the reasons why there is an issue
  • clarify details
  • stay relaxed and encouraging, and
  • summarise to check your understanding
    of the situation.

And, when discussing shortfalls in any area, it is important to check that the employee:

  • is aware that it is a task that is required of them
  • has been shown what is required, and
  • understands the gap between what is happening and what is required.

Step 4 – Jointly devise a solution

Where possible, it is important that a solution is jointly devised with the employee. An employee who has contributed to the solution will be more likely to accept and act on it.

When working out a solution, the employer should:

  • explore ideas by asking open questions
  • emphasise common ground
  • keep the discussion on track
  • focus on positive possibilities, and
  • offer assistance, such as further training, mentoring, flexible work practices or
    redefining roles and expectations.

A clear plan of action should be developed with the employee to implement the solution. This can be in the form of a performance agreement or action plan. A performance agreement or action plan can:

  • reflect an understanding of performance expectations and what is to be achieved over the specified time period (performance improvement milestones)
  • clarify roles and responsibilities of the employee
  • include strategies for training and career development
  • include timeframes for improvement (these may vary depending on the issue and needs of the business, however it is important to give an employee adequate time to improve their performance)
  • reinforce the value and worth of the role being performed.
A date should be set for another meeting with the employee to review progress and discuss the employee’s performance against the agreed action plan.The employer should keep a written record of all discussions relating to underperformance in case further action is required. Generally, it may also be used as evidence if legal action is taken about the matter.A meeting to review and discuss the employee’s performance should be held even if there is no longer an issue. This enables both parties to acknowledge that the issue has been resolved. The employer should provide both positive and negative feedback to the employee and should work with the employee to ensure that performance improvements are sustained.

More serious action may need to be taken if the employee’s performance does not improve including further counselling, issuing formal warnings and ultimately if the issue cannot be resolved, termination of employment.