Responding to an underperforming employee

Posted on 18 November '20 by , under people.

Given how confusing and stressful these times have been for individuals, you might find that employees are not performing at the standard you expect them to. This can prevent the company from meeting its goals and slow down growth.

It is important that you critique yourself before you start questioning the employee. The employee should be aware of what is expected from them, both in terms of role and the standard at which it should be completed. They should also be aware of the consequences of underperforming. You should also ensure that you are not expecting them to complete tasks which they have no training for, and be prepared to provide training if you find this to be the case. In some cases, the employee may not be aware that they are not performing to expectations, in which case, having a conversation with them might be more useful than confronting them about their failures.

Rather than confronting them emotionally, where the conversation is accusatory or potentially threatening, you should prepare what you have to say beforehand and keep it specific to their work and what needs to be done. This will help you address the exact issue of underperformance rather than getting sidetracked with any other factors.

As mentioned above, the current times have led to a lot of anxiety and stress throughout the public. This sheds light on the fact that an employee may be experiencing personal issues which are causing a decline in their performance. It might be worthwhile to discuss this with them. You may not necessarily be able to help, but it will help you understand the cause.

Creating performance goals that outline what tasks the employee needs to complete and what expectations they need to meet might be a helpful process. Through this method, you might be able to arrange follow-ups which can indicate to both the employee and you whether those goals are being met and what further steps can be taken if they are not. Additionally, if the goals are being met, then you should consider rewarding their improvement to let them know their efforts are valued.

While the above considerations and strategies are valid, you should also prepare yourself to let the employee go. You should learn from the experience and think about what you could have done differently as well as what individual circumstances caused underperformance in the employee.