Five Steps To Help an Underperforming Employee

transitive verb. : to do worse than. intransitive verb. : to fail to do as well as expected.

How to achieve high performance under stress | Jannell MacAulay | TEDxABQ

What can cause underperformance?

Employee performance may suffer for a variety of reasons, some of which may be personal while others are brought on by the workplace environment. Some reasons include the following:

What is underperformance?

Underperformance is when a worker doesn’t perform to the standards that are expected of them. This can include producing subpar work, failing to get along with coworkers, or failing to finish tasks that were given to them. You might observe a change in an employee’s performance right away if they have a history of producing excellent work. In other instances, you might observe a gradually declining standard of an employee’s work.

Ways to identify underperformance

While some signs of poor performance might be plain to see, others are more subtle. Look for the following signs:

How to address underperformance

Fortunately, an underperforming employee may only require some encouragement to resume producing high-quality work, while others may require instruction or clarification. Understanding the reason for your employees’ poor performance will enable you to assist them in improving. Follow these steps to address this issue with your employee:

1. Talk to your employee

Plan a meeting with your employee to go over their performance. Share your recent observations with them, including any information from their immediate supervisor or coworkers, and let them know that you want to work with them to improve. Pay attention to what they have to say, especially if they are worried about something professional. Make sure to approach this as a collaborative effort so that your employee doesn’t think you’re attacking them.

2. Determine the cause

Ask your employee why their performance has decreased. Sometimes they may not be certain even though they may know why. If this is the case, you might need to find out why they haven’t been finishing their work as well as they have in the past by asking them some questions. Assure them that you want to assist them and that any issues they bring up will be kept private. This might make them feel more at ease talking about a delicate subject, like a manager who isn’t communicating.

An underperforming employee may occasionally be an indication of a more serious issue that the business needs to address, like a toxic work environment. If an employee informs you that this is the case, you may need to look into the situation with other staff members to determine the cause. Even if other workers are currently performing at the same level as before, this issue may cause them to perform worse in the future. By fixing it right away, underperformance in the future can be avoided.

3. Make a plan to resolve it

Discuss strategies to correct the problem with your employee. If the issue is personal, find out if they require some time off to resolve it. Offer to provide resources so they can learn new skills to help them perform their job if the issue is caused by a lack of training. If communication is the issue, think about holding a joint meeting with the other party or scheduling a private meeting to go over some suggestions for improving communication.

Clarify the employee’s responsibilities and outline your expectations if they were unaware that they were performing below expectations. Think about setting achievable goals with the employee to enhance their performance. A structured approach to setting goals that an employee can easily track and follow is to use SMART goals, which stand for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound objectives.

4. Mentor your employee

Set aside time to meet frequently for coaching if a worker requires additional instruction, guidance, or supervision. You could also organize a meeting with the three of you and request input from the direct supervisor of each of your employees. Offer some brief one-on-one training depending on the cause of your employee’s performance, or look for a mentor who can teach your employee what they need to know. Ask them questions and encourage them to share with you what would be advantageous for them and their position.

4. Give ongoing constructive feedback

Offer direction and criticism to your employee as they strive to improve so they can see where they are making progress and how to keep raising the bar on their work. Give specific feedback on how an employee can improve, for instance, by watching one of their presentations or having them perform a mock presentation with you if they are having trouble presenting to clients. Tell them what they did well, too, so they are aware of your appreciation for their accomplishments.

Positive criticism motivates someone to continue working toward their objective, whether it’s developing a skill or providing their employer with better work. You can inspire your staff and create a better work environment by sending them encouraging feedback on their performance. Be patient, however. This procedure could take some time, particularly if the employee has been performing poorly for a while.

5. Follow up

Continue meeting with your employee after they have performed to an acceptable level, especially if they have indicated a need for additional training or feedback. If they seem at ease in their position once more, you might decide to meet with them less frequently. Continue offering them opportunities to express concerns or questions. This may prevent any further issues with underperformance. Until you are certain that they have resolved the issue that initially caused the underperformance, you may also meet with their direct manager or supervisor to monitor their performance on a regular basis.

Make sure to address this issue as well if it affects the entire organization, such as when management fails to communicate effectively. Allow others to voice their concerns about matters that may affect them so you can spot any additional potential issues in the business before they affect other employees’ performance.


Is underperformer a word?

Underperformer definition: One who or that which performs below average or below expectations; frequently referring to a particular business or stock

What causes under performance?

How to manage underperforming employees
  1. Recognize that there is a problem. …
  2. Hold a meeting and ask questions to determine the reason the employee is performing below expectations.
  3. Reiterate job expectations. …
  4. Manage employee expectations. …
  5. Develop an action plan together. …
  6. Ensure regular check-ins and follow-ups. …
  7. Recognize progress.

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