5 Ways to Handle Underperforming Employees

by Greg Skloot
Management   |   3 Min Read
lazy employees

We have all had to deal with an underperforming employee. It’s particularly frustrating as a manager since you are eager to get each of your team members to contribute at their best. Consider these 5 steps to addressing an employee who is underperforming:

1. Document their performance

Your first step is to actually identify that a team member is underperforming. Sometimes it’s easy, such as when a sales rep has a defined goal of 5 closed deals per week and they only closed 1 deal. You should be getting status updates each week (using a tool like Weekly Update) on what each person is accomplishing and what is blocked, which should highlight non-performers.

2. Determine if they are coachable

If someone is identified as underperforming, the next action step is to figure out if they can be coached. Maybe they are in the wrong role, or there aren’t clear guidelines. If you determine the person cannot be coached, it’s best to cut ties now.

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3. Coach them

If the person can be coached, work with them to create an action plan. This includes figuring out the precise areas where they are falling short, identifying skills they need to train on, and guiding them on the right way to execute. This must be a collaborative process; employees will be motivated to see that you as their manager are putting real effort into helping them succeed.

4. Set clear performance indicators

You must be able to measure if someone is improving. In the sales rep example, you might say that after 2 weeks of coaching, she should be able to close 3 deals per week. Everything should connect to a measurable goal, otherwise there will be frustrating ambiguity as to whether someone is still underperforming or not.

5. Cut quickly if it’s not working

If the data shows that no improvement is being made and the person isn’t responding to coaching, the best thing you can do as a manager, for them and for the rest of your team, is let that person go. They can go find a role that is a better fit, and you can stop wasting time coaching someone who won’t add value to your organization.

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