The Key Strategies To Support Your Underperforming Employee 

The Key Strategies To Support Your Underperforming Employee - a loading bar with the words "work in progress" written above it. Publié le 5 December 2023 Par

Create a better workplace and support your team by using the key strategies to support your underperforming employee.

It could be said that businesses would be nothing without their dedicated employees holding the fort. A team of hard-working, productive employees can sometimes be the make or break for businesses. 

So, what happens when you have an employee who is underperforming in their job? Let’s take a look at what it means to be underperforming and the steps you can take as an employer to support your staff and help them get back on track. 

What is the meaning of underperforming?

Every business has its own set of goals and targets to reach. This could be yearly or quarterly. It helps to keep track of the business’s progress and ensures you’re all working towards the overall common goal, which is usually to generate more profit, grow your consumer base and improve brand awareness

If an employee is underperforming this means they may not be meeting the targets they’ve been given. These may be measured by key metrics or KPIs (key performance indicators). 

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Whether you’re a small business or a large corporation, it can be tricky to keep on top of all employees and their performance. Assigning them a set of targets to meet can motivate them to do their best at work, especially if you offer rewards for meeting or exceeding these targets. This could be a financial reward, for instance, or another benefit such as increased time off. 

A typical underperforming employee could be exhibiting behaviors such as:

So, if an employee is falling behind and not performing as well as you’d expect, it is something you need to address as soon as possible with your HR management team. 

How can an underperforming employee affect business?

Businesses are at their best when running as a smooth operation. That includes your employees working well together as a team. If an employee isn’t meeting the standards of your business, this can affect the business and your other staff members. 

It can bring a dip in productivity, especially if other employees feel as though they need to pick up the work of your underperforming employee. Not only do they have to focus on their tasks, but they may find themselves adding to their to-do list some other tasks that haven’t been completed. 

This could also lead to work that is falling below par. An underperforming employee may not be putting their best foot forward in the office, and as a result, the work they are producing may not be up to scratch. Similarly, if another employee is pitching in to help the underperforming employee, this could affect their workload and mean their own output is becoming subpar. 

Depending on the type of business you run, it may also mean customers are dissatisfied with the service you’re providing. For instance, this can happen if your underperforming employee is in a customer service role where they are dealing with lots of customers using an online telephone service.

If they aren’t answering as many calls as they have been targeted, this can lead to disgruntled customers on hold. 

Free to use image from Unsplash 

6 strategies to support your underperforming employee

Here’s a look at 6 strategies to support underperforming employees:

1. Set a meeting and create a plan together

One of the most effective ways to support your underperforming employee is to arrange a meeting. You can use this time with them to talk about what the underlying causes are for their lack of motivation. 

Ensure you remain empathetic during this meeting, as your aim is to understand your employee and where they’re at, rather than point fingers at their underperformance.

You can ask questions like:

  • What is the most frustrating aspect of your job?
  • Is there anything we can do to make your workload more manageable?
  • Are there any areas where you can see you could improve your performance?
  • Is there anything external that could be affecting your work performance?
  • Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Listen carefully to their responses and make them aware that this meeting is in the strictest confidentiality. You may be able to offer them help or advice based on their answers, and some steps of action may be able to be taken immediately; others may require some time and more planning. 

For instance, if they are struggling with their workload, you’ll need to meet with the team and discuss how it can be better distributed.

2. Offer a mentor or coaching

If your employee expresses a desire to stay within the business but is just having difficulty with their job role, you may suggest something such as a mentor or business coaching. A knowledgeable colleague within the company might be able to demonstrate how they complete tasks and help employees improve their working habits.

This can also help to hold them accountable for their time as they report back to their mentor, which could boost performance. They can receive feedback and constructive criticism from the mentor to push them to do their best at work. The mentor can also share any necessary information with the managers if they think it’s of note.

Additionally, providing them with tools and resources, such as a screen recorder for Mac, can enhance their learning experience and aid in their professional development.

A relationship like this can help struggling employees to open up more, and can also make them feel more confident in work situations. 

Free to use image from Unsplash

3. Encourage a positive work atmosphere 

Whether employees work remotely, hybrid, or in the office every day, there are certain steps you can take to ensure you’re creating a positive and productive work environment. 

Employees may face issues such as stress and burnout, and managers should be equipped with the knowledge and skills to be able to spot this and support employees if they do feel as though they’re unable to do their job properly. 

Simple things such as team building exercises at corporate wellness programs and enforcing a toxic-free workplace can help to bring the team together and make it a more pleasant place to work.

If your underperforming employee is facing any issues, they should feel comfortable enough to speak to management about it, who can then address these problems discreetly. 

Additionally, offering resources like a Learning Management System (LMS) can empower employees to acquire new skills and boost their performance, enhancing the overall work environment.

Another effective approach is to encourage underperforming employees to work in collaboration with a more experienced colleague or mentor who can provide guidance and support. This can help them gain new insights, share ideas, and learn from their peers. By fostering a culture of collaboration, you not only enhance their skills but also create a sense of accountability, as they work together to meet their targets. 

4. Schedule regular meetings

It’s not enough to have one meeting with your underperforming employee and then send them on their way. You need to be able to offer them consistent support. It’s beneficial to the employee and also your business to see whether they are taking on your help and advice. 

This can be accomplished by scheduling regular meetings in order to discuss their progress. During these meetings you can create action plans for the week/month, and set targets for them to reach with your support. 

It’s also a great opportunity for employees to express any concerns or hesitations about their work. Employers can adjust goals and targets according to their employees, ensuring you’re giving them the best possible chance to progress. You may even offer extra training and tools to help them with this with the help of human capital management HCM programs. 

Free to use image from Unsplash

5. Celebrate achievements and milestones

Everyone likes to be recognized. It’s even more important for underperforming employees who may lack confidence in their capabilities. Be sure to celebrate their achievements and milestones so they feel appreciated and recognized. Praise them for their efforts and point out specific accomplishments that you feel deserve a spotlight. 

You can also offer some rewards for targets met, such as a bonus or a fun team day away. This kind of recognition can make them feel more confident at work and also encourage them to carry on the upward path. It shows that you trust them and that you want them to succeed in the business. 

6. Suggest time off 

Burnout is a very real issue for many employees across the globe. Sometimes, burnout can be addressed with action plans and support. But other times, it can be far more beneficial to suggest that employees take some much-needed time off for mental wellness

A perfectly capable employee may find themselves struggling simply because they need a break. It may also help them to address any issues they are facing in their personal life. Discuss with your HR team and work with enterprise HR software to deal with the admin side of letting someone take a significant amount of time away.

Actively encouraging employees to prioritize a healthy work/life balance is crucial for employee happiness and productivity. When an employee is underperforming, it can affect the whole team, so by them taking time away, it can minimize cases of underperformance in the group and lessens the risk of other employees falling behind. 

Free to use image from Unsplash

Managing the underperformance of staff in your business

Running a business means that you have to take responsibility for each aspect of it, that includes the productivity of your employees. Dealing with underperformance may be time-consuming, but it must be done in order to ensure you are meeting the goals of the business. You can perform an operational audit to look for other areas that may require improvement. 

As we’ve discovered, supporting underperforming staff members is the most effective way of managing the issue. The key strategies to support your underperforming employee include meeting with them, hearing them, and then creating an action plan that can help to steer them back on the right path. This is the best way to transform an underperforming employee into a productive and valued team member.

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