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How to deal with underperforming staff

  • Do you have staff in your business who are not performing the job to the level that you are paying them to?

  • How much time do you spend managing staff who aren’t doing their job properly?

  • Have you ever thought on how this effects your business?

Research states that managers spend more than a quarter of their time managing staff members who don’t perform.

Costly mistakes, the loss of customers, and the loss of experienced staff have the potential to negatively impact on you and your business and therefore are too important to ignore.

Dealing with an employee who is underperforming is unfortunately something that as a manager or employer, you will have to face throughout your career. Poor performance can affect productivity, bring down the morale of the rest of the team and affect the overall goals of your business. Therefore, no doubt, when presented with this situation, you’ll want to deal with it right away.

While this is something that happens in most workplaces, there is definitely a right and wrong way to go about the situation. So with this in mind, here, Julie Pollock from Consult HR shares the most effective ways to deal with underperforming staff.

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Get to the source of the problem

Often, there is a reason an employee is making multiple mistakes or doesn’t seem to be putting in the effort anymore, so begin by questioning what the cause could be. Are they overwhelmed by their workload? Are they experiencing difficulty prioritising? Could they benefit from more training? Or, is there a personal reason for their lack of enthusiasm at work?

Prepare to give feedback

It’s important to plan your meeting with the employee in question so that you can offer feedback, which will hopefully lead to improvement. Before the meeting, gather as much evidence and material as possible, so that you have all the facts to hand in order to be specific. Choose a time to sit down together, rather than airing your grievances in the heat of the moment, especially in front of other employees. Be clear about the key messages you wish to get across and how a resolution can be reached.

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Deal with underperformance sooner rather than later

If you don’t deal with an underperforming employee sooner rather than later, you are delivering the message that what they are doing is okay. Furthermore, other members of staff may believe that their behaviour is acceptable and follow suit. During the meeting, highlight the fact that the aim of the discussion is to find a solution, rather than as an opportunity to vent. It is also worth highlighting some positive attributes of the employee so that it isn’t an entirely negative experience.

Make your expectations known

While from time-to-time there will be employees who don’t take a role seriously and try to get away with doing as little as they can, most people don’t deliberately set out to under perform. Poor performance can arise as a result of someone not being 100 per cent clear on what exactly is expected of them. In this instance, it is important to make the expectations of the role known. Be clear on boundaries, who they are responsible for reporting to, any targets they must meet and timelines for outstanding tasks. Ideally, this show be made known to an employee as soon as they join your company. Furthermore, regular appraisals are key for keeping staff motivated and productivity levels high.

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Offer feedback on performance not personality

Unfortunately, we won’t like and respect everyone we work with over the years. There will be personality clashes and we won’t enjoy spending time with everyone, but this should not impact on your view of an employee’s performance. If a staff member falls into this category, make sure you are offering feedback on their work only. It is vital that your personal opinion of them does not impact your view of their work, especially if they are hitting targets and performing well.

Learn what motivates your employees

It’s worthwhile noting that different things keep different people motivated. Ideally, you should regularly get to know your employees, and specifically, their long term goals and aspirations, and what you can do to better support them.

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Reward improvement

A great habit to get into, is following up with underperforming employees to review their progress. For those who have made improvements, give credit where credit is due. Rewarding their change in attitude is a surefire way to ensure they continue to meet your expectations and take pride in the job at hand.

We are here to help

If you are experiencing difficulties with underperforming employees, help is at hand. If underperforming employees are causing you some problems, contact Julie Pollock on 07858089006 or julie@consulthr.co.uk to discuss further.