Strategies for Addressing Underperforming Employees

Underperforming employees may need help to strengthen their skills, build confidence, or more effectively manage their time. Or, these employees might require clarification of their goals, expectations, and key performance indicators (KPIs).

Addressing underperforming employees helps uncover the reasons why they are not producing at the level they should be. Creating a plan for improvement and following up on their progress can help these employees become successful in their roles.

Implement these strategies to address underperforming employees.

Talk with the Underperforming Employee

Privately speak with your employee about the signs of their underperformance. Examples include being absent during meetings, turning in reports late, and completing fewer tasks than usual. Show that you care about your employee’s success and want to help them improve.

Discuss the Reasons for Underperformance

Find out why your employee is underperforming. Perhaps they need help managing their time to complete tasks before the deadlines. Or, the employee may be dealing with a personal matter that is impacting their ability to focus at work. Offer support as needed.

Develop a Performance Improvement Plan

Work with your employee to create specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound (SMART) goals for improvement. This format clarifies what to work toward, the steps to take, when to achieve it, and how success will be measured. Provide the necessary training and support to help your employee reach these goals.

Schedule Follow-Up Discussions

Set daily, weekly, or monthly meetings to follow up on your employee’s progress. Use their SMART goals to talk about how your employee feels about their performance and whether they need additional training or support. Include constructive feedback to provide additional motivation for success.

Reward Improvement

Recognize when your employee shows signs of improvement in their performance. Provide your employee with their favorite snack or another reward they would appreciate as motivation to continue.

Document Your Conversations

Keep detailed records of what you and your employee talk about during these performance discussions. You can refer back to this information to verify your recollections, look for patterns, and develop topics to talk about during the next meeting. These details help determine whether your employee improves their performance or you need to take additional action.

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