Business consultant Chicago

How to Deal with Underperforming Employees

 John Ruh   Chicago Business Consultant, Leadership


Employees are human beings, and as such, they are anything but static. Though we would like to think that after we have selected and hired the candidate with the greatest talent, skills, and value, they may not always perform to the best of their abilities. Humans are dynamic and complex by nature, and work stress, family lives, and a thousand other factors could be causing them to underperform. When you notice your employees are underperforming, you essentially have two options: help them perform better or let them go. Ideally you would like to protect your time and money investment in your employees, so the first option is generally favored over firing an employee.

Make Sure You Give them Feedback

If an employee doesn’t have a clear picture of your expectations, they may not realize that they are underperforming. To help them understand that they aren’t meeting expectations, you need to make sure that you give them crystal clear feedback – albeit in a constructive manner. Some employees don’t respond well to criticism, so be careful how you deliver the message. Instead of barking managerial flack at an employee, make sure you offer constructive criticism as well as deliver the message that you care about your employee.

Make Sure You Listen to Your Employees

An employee’s performance may or may not be related to personal factors. You need to constantly keep channels of communication open with your employees, or you could be setting them up for failure. Try to discern the real reasons that an employee is underperforming. Did you set their goals unrealistically high? Are your internal processes to blame because they are flawed? Is there an issue with interdepartmental cooperation and communication? Nothing will irritate your employees faster than blaming them for factors outside of their power and control. By listening to your employees, you will be able to uncover and identify process improvement opportunities instead of appearing as a corporate robot.

Follow Up with Your Employees

You also have to keep checking up on your employees, but try to do so in a way that does not seem invasive. It would be a mistake to simply tell an underperforming employee that they need to pick up the pace and not give them a second thought. That will make your management seem callous and obtuse. By following up with your employees, you can constantly readjust and course-correct to make sure that everyone meets their goals. Make it a point to have regular meetings with underperforming employees to make sure everyone is on the right track.

Know Where to Draw the Line with Underperformance

Sooner or later, it might be high time to cut ties. At a certain point, a constantly underperforming employee may be harming your organization. One missed sales quota for a single period is one thing, but a constantly reoccurring problem is an entirely different animal. If you feel that you have done your due diligence and given every opportunity for improvement and success, it might be time to look for other candidates that will help your business grow.

Finding Help for Your Business

If you need help dealing with organizational inefficiencies, contact John M. Ruh and Associates. With years of experience helping businesses, you would feel regret without services that would help your business flourish.