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5 Effective Ways to Deal with an Underperforming Employee

Uplift and motivate your underperforming employees to stay on track with five essential and effective steps.

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10 Min read
Last Updated on
May 18, 2021

If your employees aren’t performing their best, your business suffers - it’s as simple as that. These underperforming employees are the ones responsible for carrying out the everyday tasks needed to keep your business ticking over and maintaining its revenue. When employee performance levels start to drop, things begin to slip through the cracks and this translates into a drop in revenue and sales.

How to prevent employees from underperforming?

The answer is to keep your employees engaged, happy and feeling like they’re valued

According to research, 39% of workers would work harder if they were happier in their current role. 

Having effective performance management techniques is extremely crucial in order to overcome performance issues. Making sure that your employees are content and satisfied in their position and within your company is the first step in knocking underperformance on its head.

How to prevent employees from underperforming?

Below is a Step by Step guide to help an underperforming employee:

1. Acknowledge the Problem

Recognition is the number one thing employees admit their manager could give them to inspire them and encourage them to produce great work. But with recognition comes acknowledgement. If you don’t open up to your employees about their underperformance, you won’t know what’s causing it and how to fix it.

“You can not solve a problem until you acknowledge that you have one and accept responsibility for solving it.” -Zig Ziglar

Sometimes they might just be going through a rough time, or they might need something in particular from you to help them get past a roadblock and thrive. Once your employee knows that you’ve noticed their underperformance, you can both start working together to fix it.

2. Document Discussions

Like with anything, it’s worth documenting every conversation or piece of communication you have with your employee about their underperformance. By documenting what’s been said and what you’ve planned moving forward, you’ll be able to check in regularly and see what kind of progress is being made. Documentation also helps simplify the process in the future if another employee faces the same reasons for underperforming.

3. Identify Areas of Improvement

The next step is to identify where your employees can improve and get their performance levels back up to scratch. Vague promises and plans don’t work in these situations and can leave everyone feeling confused. Instead, you want to clearly state where the employee is falling short and why that might be the case.

What Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, says to any underperforming employee in his company, “I’m rooting for you. I’m the reason you’re in this role. And I’m going to work with you to do everything within my power to get you up to the bar, if not over it.”

It helps here to identify a crystal clear level of improvement that you’d like to see. For example, if a member of your sales team is only selling to five clients a month and you’d like to see them selling to fifteen, clearly state that as an area of improvement. You can then tap into these improvement checkpoints at each review moving forward. 

According to one study, 98% of employees said that receiving regular employee feedback is a good thing.

If you’re not already, you should be putting in place regular reviews with your employees where you can deliver feedback and they can share any struggles or challenges they are facing. When an employee feels heard and like they can talk to you about their issues, they’re far more likely to come to you for help improving their performance.

4. Create a Plan of Action

Plan of Action for Employee Engagement

The most important part of the process is to create a plan of action.

How are your employees supposed to know what to do next if they don’t have those steps laid out for them?

One of the main reasons employees begin to underperform is because they feel like they’re in over their head or they’re struggling with a particular element of their role. If you can help them put concrete, actionable steps in place to understand what they need to do better, you’ll be able to get the most out of their performance. You can use a platform like Xoxoday to set goals, create a plan of action, measure the results and provide feedback all in one place.

How to keep your employees motivated and excited about their work and workplace? Find out with Xoxoday Empuls!

5. Assess Performance

Finally, it’s so important to measure and assess the performance of your employees. You ideally need a benchmark to work from moving forward so you can quickly identify when a team member is underperforming and tackle the issue head on before it gets too bad.

In a study conducted by ClearCompany on consistent performance management, it is stated that 70% of their employees felt more valued, and 68% reported receiving more valuable feedback on all of their tasks.

When your employees know that they have something to work towards and will be assessed on their performance, they are more likely to push themselves the extra mile to reach the checkpoints that have been set for them. This helps instil a sense of value into your team and will continuously have them moving forwards rather than stagnating in their roles.

In conclusion: How Will You Inspire Your Team?

Performance is vital if you want your business to succeed. Employees that are performing below average over a long period of time will start to take their toll on your company and its bottom line, which is why it’s important to address performance issues as soon as they crop up. To do this, it’s vital that you hold regular feedback sessions and reviews for all members of staff and provide a clear plan of action when you identify any areas that need improvement.

Xoxoday Empuls is the All-In-One Solution for Employee Engagement. Improve employee productivity, performance & retention with an easy to use engagement application. Want to know more? Book a demo or start a free trial.

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What is a blog post?

Blog posts allow you and your business to publish insights, thoughts, and stories on your website about any topic. They can help you boost traffic, brand awareness, credibility, conversions, and revenue.
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