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How to manage underperforming employees

Dealing with an employee whose performance isn’t up to scratch is a challenge the majority of managers will have to face if they like it or not. Underperformance, or poor performance, is simply a failure to perform the duties of the role or to perform them to the standard required by the business. Employers sometimes confuse underperformance or poor performance with misconduct or poor conduct. Pushing poor performance under the carpet, however, is not an option. When considering how to deal with the situation, it is important to first identify the underlying causes of underperformance. Before jumping in and adopting a performance improvement plan and following a correct capability procedure, you may want to consider the following:

Is the employee in the right role?

Firstly, it’s important that you consider an employee’s suitability to a role and their individual skill set. It may be that the employee in question has worked for the company for a number of years and has found themselves in a role that doesn’t quite suit them. They may have the ‘experience’ for management or team leader level, but not the personable skills to be a leader of people. When promoting or placing someone, speak to them first to find out their objectives and career goals in order to place employees in the right roles. If it is a relatively new employee, has the right training and inductions been given to allow them to perform their role to the standard in which you expect?

Be aware of the skills and interests of employees when you assign tasks and try to match people up with the jobs that best suit them. The employee may have ticked all the right boxes and holds the ideal qualifications and experience, but without proper support and management, they are likely to fail.

Is the employee’s manager performing correctly?

As discussed previously, without the proper training and support, the employee in question may fail.   Before focussing solely on the employee, look at the team leaders or managers above them to see if they are performing correctly. It’s good practice to consider the managers as well as the employee when conducting a performance improvement plan. By reviewing if the managers are up to date with the objectives of the employee, aware of any issues that the employee may be having by holding regular team meetings and appraisals, will allow the company to understand the team dynamics and to discover if it is functioning accordingly.

Is there a suitable role for the employee?

The first response may be to get rid of the employee in question but hold fire. Consider the skills of the employee to see if there is a suitable role within the business for them. A business is only as good as those who work in it and by retaining talent and adjusting to the needs of the individual may benefit the business in the long run, especially for those who have a long-standing service to the company. By holding onto those who hold experience, knowledge and understanding of the business will help maintain client relationships and hold the skills within the business.

By understanding the needs of the employee and conducting regular meetings will allow you to approach any issues head on before it becomes a problem. Employee retention is key to a successful business and by incorporating the employee objectives with the overall company’s will allow for a smooth running.

Try the informal chat  first, but if that doesn’t work, speak to us about ensuring you get the capability process right!