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Your first step always should be to convey a clear message to the
employee about what your performance expectations are. Performance
standards that do not relate to the job need to be rewritten so there
will be no confusion between your oral instructions or written guidance
and the performance standards themselves. If the new standards that you
have written are substantially different from the old ones, you will
need to give the employee a chance to work under the new standards
before you determine whether or not the employee's performance is
unacceptable. As discussed later in Step Three, you do not always need
to rely on formal performance standards, depending on the legal
authority under which you take action. But you run a serious risk of
either having your action overturned or mitigated upon appeal if the
employee can demonstrate that his or her performance expectations were
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