How to Deal with an Employee who is a Poor Performer

How to Deal with an Employee who is a poor performer

As a manager, you know it’s part of your job to deal with employees who are poor performers.
They could be under-performing for any number of reasons, whether they’re not meeting deadlines or monthly targets, not responding to customers quickly enough or producing shoddy work.
Whatever it is, under-performing employees can affect the morale of your whole team and undermine your business’ overall goals
So how do you manage an under-performing member of staff in the most effective and impactful way? Here are some tips.

Provide regular feedback and reviews

Give your staff regular short bursts of feedback and reviews throughout the year
Most employees need and appreciate immediate feedback on how they’re doing in their jobs. Regular feedback – including areas of improvement – is more motivating for employees and an effective way of boosting their performance.
Balancing out positives with negatives when giving feedback will reassure your employee that they are doing some parts of their job well. It also means they’re less likely to see any meetings with you as an opportunity to be criticised.

Have the facts before you approach your employee

Before you approach your employee about a particular performance issue, make sure you have the facts. What evidence do you have that shows they’re not meeting the required standard? Are you clear about your expectations when you ask for improvements

Be specific and get to the point

Approaching your staff member with concerns about their performance in a vague or unclear manner won’t work, and they may misunderstand what you’re saying.
Get to the point and outline your concerns about their performance, based on the evidence you prepared beforehand. Download my course ‘Employee who is a poor performer’ which shows you how to do this.

Listen to Employee Concerns

Then ask for a response. Your employee may have a reason why they aren’t doing something well or meeting the required standards.
Listen to what they say and find out what their concerns are. Do they find that aspect of the job challenging? Do other members of your team have a similar issue?
Is there a personal issue that’s affecting their work productivity?
Listening will help identify how you can work on the issue together and move forward.

Ask Open Questions

During your discussion, make sure you ask open questions, such as
  • ‘how do you feel that task went?’
  • ‘what part of your role do you find most challenging?’
  • ‘what part of the job do you think you’re best at?’
  • ‘what would make it easier for you to do xxx (a particular task)?
These types of question open up the conversation and give your employee a chance to reflect on their own performance.
They may even recognise the areas where they are underperforming and request support around this – which saves you from having to bring it up.

Ask what you can do

By asking what you can do to help your employee perform better in their role, you show that you’re acknowledging that it is not only up to the employee to work on their under-performance.
Is there additional training or coaching you could provide? Or do you need to explain a process or procedure in more detail to them? Your employee may also have suggestions as to how they could be supported in their work. They’re likely to feel more motivated and willing to work on the issue if they make the suggestion.

Agree on an action plan and review date

Make sure you gain agreement as to what your employee will do to address the performance issue. This could be a detailed action plan including dates for additional training or setting aside a time to coach them on a procedure. Or it could be setting small goals for them to work toward. Agree on a date when you will sit down with them again to review their progress, so they know this discussion will be followed up.

Evaluate the outcome and give feedback

Where an employee shows improvement and takes action, it’s important to acknowledge this. Alternatively, if there is little or no improvement, it’s crucial to speak with your employee as soon as possible to decide what needs to be done next. Download my course ‘Employee who is a poor performer’ which shows you how to do this
So, go ahead and follow the steps above and remember to reach out if you need help.  You can always find me on my Facebook Page or feel free to email me at
Until next time With thanks Josie Hastings
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