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Successfully Managing Underperformance

May 13, 2024

There are many “hard” parts to being a people manager. One of the most difficult things in successfully managing underperformance is telling someone they are not meeting your expectations. No one wakes up in the morning and wants to be bad at their job, make mistakes or cause problems. Yet on a regular basis that is the situation we, as business owners and managers, are faced with. So, what do you do to turn things around?


Avoiding them is not an option. The underperformance will start to impact other members of the team and potentially your clients and business results. Addressing the issue is essential.



These are our top tips to successfully manage underperformance:


1. Talk to them:

Find a time to speak to them 1:2:1 to find out what is going on. With the change to legislation recently, we need to be even more careful that the performance issues aren’t connected to an area protected from discrimination by Law (Health issues, domestic violence issues, etc.)

There may be something you can do to turn this around through better understanding their situation.


2. Ensure Clear Expectations:

Our team members can’t read our mind. Set clear expectations of what good performance looks like, and what it doesn’t. Provide feedback on a regular basis with recognition of what’s working and constructive suggestions for how to improve what’s not.


3. Behaviours / Activities / Results

The results that an employee achieves are the results of the behaviours and activities of the employee. Sales results come from an employee consistently making the calls and following up with clients. Start with identifying the behaviour you want and build the pattern that will achieve the desired results.


4. Praise in Public / Constructive Feedback in Private

Providing positive feedback in public helps the employee who has been underperforming, but also the whole team, see you are fair and balanced. When providing corrective feedback, ensure it is done in private and use specific examples that the employee can understand what could have been done differently.



If the behaviours and/or results are still not achieving the desired outcomes. Reach out for support to ensure the transition from informal feedback to formal performance management is handled correctly. There are processes that need to be followed to ensure that you are meeting procedural fairness, and the employee cannot claim unfair dismissal.


Call us for a free consultation to ensure addressing poor performance is a positive experience for you and achieves what you need to be successful.

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