7 Tips to Manage Underperforming Employees

Published On
September 28, 2023
Read Time
4 Minutes
OnBlick Inc

Regardless of the industry, most managers must have dealt with a poor-performing employee sometime in their careers. It can’t be denied that some of them find it frustrating, time-consuming and difficult to accept poor performers. It is a sensitive case that needs to be handled with compassion and empathy, but at the same time, one needs to be rational too.

This article suggests a few effective ways to manage underperforming members of your teams.

What is Employee Underperformance?

Employee underperformance includes issues such as failing to meet an acceptable standard of work, not complying with work policies and procedures, or demonstrating behaviour that impacts others negatively. Some industry experts opine that underperformance occurs when the employee acts irresponsibly. At times the employee can end up being frequently late for work, and meetings, having poor performance levels, and badmouth. When employees don’t like their job or feel their company does not value them, they’re far less likely to perform well in their roles or on a team. Such people tend to not complete work duties, miss deadlines often and deliver low-quality work.

Nevertheless, there are always explanations for why a person repeatedly finds themselves in a scenario where they underperform. One is that they might not possess the expertise required to carry out the designation that the organization is offering. A person may have less drive to work if they are underpaid and have little support from management, which brings us to point two. Three, it can be a personal issue that keeps getting in the way of their ability to concentrate at work.

How to deal with underperforming employees?

1. Act at the right time

Act quickly but do not judge. When an employee is recognized as a long-term underperformer, the manager must take the required corrective action. Every person in the corporation might be negatively impacted, thus reducing the company’s overall productivity. A good manager will take the measures necessary to address the problem as soon as feasible.

2. Communicate with the employee

Deliver the information to the employee while handling the matter with respect and compassion. A constructive approach while expressing problems is important, or the recipient may find it highly demoralizing. Only addressing the issue will not be sufficient; it is also important to understand their experience. Putting yourself in their position will encourage trust and honesty, which will cause the employee to open up. It’s been observed in several cases that the management frequently ignores this area and places the responsibility on the employee. This approach is detrimental to both the business and the individual.

3. Check if expectations are met

When not given clarity on their designation and lack of proper training and onboarding processes, the new hires often lead to problems with their productivity. From day one at the company, ensure that the employees’ roles, duties, and expectations are delivered successfully.

Ask your staff what they anticipate from you regarding professional development, pay, job security, etc. See whether you can satisfy their expectations after hearing what they say. Regardless of age, gender and experience, fair compensation must be given if the work they are assigned deserves it. Do not take people for granted for the work they do for you. All these cultivate less motivation to do the job with sincerity and their full potential.

4. Plan for success

Together, generate ideas, and create a personalized strategy for future progress. The manager’s suggestions must also be considered when determining what the organization wants them to perform. Cooperation is essential; reach out to them anytime they need assistance during the strategy.

Next, start outlining the specifics of a workable strategy for both parties. Set quantifiable objectives or metrics that must be reached in order to measure the employee’s development.

5. Document and follow up

It is crucial to record delicate exchanges like this. You could avoid further claims for illegal termination if you properly document the aspects supporting the employee’s performance. In the event that you have to fire an employee in the future, it will be more difficult for them to sue your business if you can demonstrate that they freely consented to the conditions in question and that they were fairly carried out.

Follow-up is mandatory. Just taking action and plans will not suffice. The failing employee’s job must be monitored, schedule monthly or quarterly meetings with them. Their performance needs to be evaluated in relation to the predetermined standards.

6. Do not be demanding

The most important management advice is always to be empathetic while still being brutally honest about what can be better. Your duty as a leader is to foster an atmosphere conducive to learning and development rather than fear.

At least some managers believe that the best remedies for ignored tasks and work are deadlines, harsh criticism, and being extremely included in the job when the subordinates require it. It is important to remember that being a demanding and intrusive boss will worsen the problem rather than help it.

7. Evaluate and reward positive change

Sufficient time for improvement must be provided for the employee. That being said, a decision must be put forth for the same. Evaluation is necessary to assess if there is any change in the situation of the employee or not. This decision is often straightforward, and action is made.

Rewarding the employee is key if they show even the slightest improvement in their output. The employee’s efforts on behalf of the company during the meetings and talks might be recognized with a certificate of gratitude, a pay increase, a bonus, or celebrations. However, if the result is contrasting, then there is no other solution than terminating them. In this situation, there must be no room for personal feelings. Also, ensuring a polite offboarding experience helps keep professionalism.

In Conclusion

There is no doubt that handling a situation like underperformance is a skill. As accounted earlier, one must have compassion, good communication skills, and an understanding of the necessity to act safely. This, of course, is an art that needs to be practised with caution. We hope this article helps managers handle underperformance in a better way.

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