10 Strategies for Dealing With Underperforming Employees

10 Strategies for Dealing With Underperforming Employees

10 Strategies for Dealing With Underperforming Employees

Strategies for Dealing With Underperforming Employees

Dealing with underperforming employees is never fun. But, it’s a necessary evil. Here are ten strategies for approaching the problem.

Depending on the size of your company, you could be spending nearly $2,000 for every employee you hire and train.

For smaller companies, that can be a pretty serious investment to make into someone to then turn around and fire them. There are lots of incentives to working with underperforming employees.

Not only is it bad for morale to just cut ties with someone when they make a mistake. You’ll also have to deal with having the work of that person put on the desk of one or more of your other employees.

Along with the loss of profit during onboarding periods, the hidden costs of replacing employees can outweigh the benefits of getting rid of someone. Thankfully there are a lot of great ways to turn around underperforming employees and get them back on track. Follow these 10 strategies to straighten your problem employees out and improve your team’s productivity.

1. Communicate Clearly To Your Underperforming Employees

Not every issue with performance is 100% on the shoulders of the employee. Sometimes their supervisors aren’t communicating clearly. Communication issues can lead to a perceived failure of performance when the employee might be performing to meet another manager or supervisor’s needs.

Stop yourself before you reprimand any employee. Have a short and positive meeting where you talk about what the employee is doing right and then one or two points where you need them to improve.

Be sure that they understand what is expected of them before you get upset.

2. Listen Closely To Employees

Communication needs to go in two directions. Good leaders listen to their employees and try to understand their concerns.

If the employee’s performance has suffered suddenly, there could be something going on in their life that is hindering their performance. A sick family member or a new baby might be changing their schedule and priorities.

Working with your employee toward a solution will build their devotion to your company and make them feel understood.

3. Deal With Structural Issues

If your employee is working on a team that just isn’t functioning, find a tactful way of dealing with the issue. If one person is overburdened with the responsibilities of a large project, it’s important to fix the balance rather than punish one member.

If there’s a cross-departmental issue, try to bring representatives from each party involved to talk about how to improve communication. If one team suddenly keeps rejecting all of the work of another team, this should be a sign of a miscommunication.

Be clear that your meeting isn’t an opportunity to vent or cast blame. Everyone needs to feel valued. The aim is to find a solution, not diagnose the problem.

It’s already clear a problem exists.

4. Get To Know The Employee

If you can find out and understand the goals of your employees, it’s easier to find a way to synchronize the company’s interests with the employee. If they have certain career aspirations, show them how their performance can help them reach that goal.

An employee who feels undervalued, overworked, or underpaid won’t be able to hide their feelings forever. It will eventually get out and start affecting everyone involved. Make sure that everyone has a role that fits who they are and what they want.

5. Assign New Tasks

Perhaps your conversation with an undervalued employee revealed that their interests aren’t in line with your team’s goals. If they’re not far off or if there’s another place for them in the company or an adjacent team, make a plan to redirect them.

If you can keep the employee within the company, you’ll save the cost of retraining and end up creating a valuable hybrid employee in the end. That once disgruntled employee could be a conduit between teams to ensure that projects have a 360-degree outlook, rather than from a single perspective.

6. Set Goals Together

As the supervisor to underperforming employees, your responsibility is to find out how your employee wants to improve. Everyone who puts in a full day’s work wants to feel proud of their accomplishments at the end of the day.

Find out which parts of your employee’s skillsets they would like to improve. Set goals that will fulfill that need while meeting the goals of your company. Setting goals has a proven record of increasing productivity no matter how well you’re performing.

7. Follow Up With Them

After a week or two, follow up with your employee. Don’t ask them for the work to be finished. Sincerely find out how they feel about their progress.

The next time you talk to them, you can find out how the project is coming. Don’t be afraid to hold your employees accountable, but avoid being paternalistic or hovering over them while they work.

Change takes time. Be sure they have that time.

8. Reward Improvements

You don’t have to buy anyone flowers or an Amazon gift card just for doing what’s expected of them. But be sure that you’re taking note of their improvements as much as you recognize their failures.

If they complete a difficult task, let them know you’re proud of them. Once they bring success for the whole team, offer to buy lunch for everyone. Forward progress should be recognized and rewarded always, not just when you’re trying to deal with underperforming employees.

9. Be Straightforward With Underperformance

If you can’t get your underperforming employees to bring their performance up, let them know in advance that you have to take action.

Address any complaints formally through your HR department and issue a letter to reprimand them. This lets your employee know that you’re serious and that you need performance to improve.

Allowing weak performances to continue throughout a difficult project will have a toll on the morale of your team. If people can get away with putting in minimal effort, they won’t have an incentive to do their best.

10. Cut Ties If You Need To

At the end of the day, if you can’t get your goals to mesh, it’s better for both parties to end the relationship. It can be a hard transition but sometimes it’s the only option.

Most Underperforming Employees Can Be Saved

By around step 5, most employees will get the hint and start turning their work around. No one is proud to be the weakest link on their team and will do their best to avoid being branded with that label.

If you’re ready to start working on reforming your underperforming employees, contact us for more tips.