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How To Deal With Underperforming Employees

April 24th, 2018

Dealing with an employee whose performance is not up to the mark is a challenge managers will have to face at some time in their career. It is important and only fair for both, to find a solution to the issue. Finding the right way to deal with such an issue can be a challenge. Many a times, managers shy away from addressing the issue due to the confrontation it requires.

However, pushing underperformance under the carpet is not the answer. If employees are left as is, it might worsen the situation and give them the idea that they can get away with anything.

How is it that managers should deal with underperforming employees?

1. Understand the root cause

Often there is a reason behind the performance. It may not always seem as it is. Many a times, the employee is unable to cope with the work or is having trouble understanding what needs to be done. Dig deep to understand the root cause of the issue. Is the employee having a tough time managing time? Does the employee require more training for the new responsibilities? Once you understand the cause, you will be able to deal with the issue better.


2. Be prepared and be specific

Before addressing the issue with the employee, you must be prepared as much material as possible showcasing the poor performance. You must be able to support your argument. This will also help you stay on track and cover all the points you need to while addressing the issue at hand. Along with material, you must also be specific about the issue. Making vague statements such as “ You are not doing a good job” will not be useful. Documenting and showing exactly where the employee is lacking will be more beneficial.


3. State clear expectations

You will always find employees who will try to get away with doing as little as possible. In order to prevent this, you must provide them with a clear set of expectations. This will give them clarity of what their role is and what is expected of them in that role. Clear objectives and expectations such as, who do they have to report to, when are expected to be available for meetings will set boundaries for them and make It easier to work within them.


4. Give feedback on behavior

It is vital for the manager to give feedback to underperforming employees. While doing so, they must make sure they give feedback on their behavior and not their personality. The reality is that we do not always like the kind of employees we have to work with. This must not come up while giving feedback. You should compartmentalize your personal opinion from your professional opinion of the employee.


5. Create performance goals

When helping employees create performance goals together, it helps them understand their individual performance targets. Including them in asking how they would like to improve will benefit them. Ask them questions such as:

• What kind of trouble are you facing while completing these tasks?

• How do you think we as an organization can help prevent such issues in the future?

This will keep everyone involved in the process rather than simply telling them what to do to ensure better performance.


6. Reward improvement’t

After implementing changes and addressing the issue at hand, you must acknowledge any kind of noticeable improvement. The employee must know that his effort has not gone to waste. Continuous feedback on performance and rewarding employees when necessary keeps them motivated to do better. These rewards do not necessarily need to be monetary; a simple “thank you” also goes a long way.