How to Deal with Poor Performance On Your Team

As a manager or leader, dealing with poor performance on your team can be one of the most challenging aspects of your job. 

Poor work performance not only affects the individual team member but also has a ripple effect on the entire team’s morale and employee productivity

Addressing an employee’s poor performance proactively and effectively is the marker of a good manager. That said, working with employees to achieve performance goals is far from an intuitive task, and not all managers naturally have the skills or preparation for this part of their job description. So, here are quick tips for dealing with poorly performing employees.

1. Understand the Core Performance Issue: Take the time to identify the specific behavior or task that the employee is struggling with. Check in with them directly. Is it a lack of skills or knowledge keeping them from being a high performer? Is there a lack of motivation or engagement? 

It’s essential to be specific and clear when identifying the core performance issue to ensure that the employee understands the problem and is aware of the expected outcome.

2. Communicate With Your Team Member: Be clear and specific when discussing employee performance, and provide examples of the behavior or task that needs improvement. 

Communicating in a non-judgmental and supportive way is vital to help the employee feel comfortable discussing their performance issues with you. 

Best Team Communication App: Slack

3. Use the Correct Performance Management Tools: 

Performance management tools can help you efficiently manage poor employee performance. These tools include goal setting, performance reviews, and performance improvement plans. 

These tools can help you track progress, provide employee feedback, and ensure that the employee is aware of the expectations and consequences of not meeting them.

Best Time Tracking Tool: Buddy Punch

Here’s a detailed guide on managing employee poor performance:

Tips To Managing Poor Performance Of Employee | Top 5

Managing employee performance is essential to running any successful business.

However, employees may sometimes not meet the desired performance standards, negatively impacting the organization’s overall productivity and efficiency. 

Managers must identify and address poor employee performance promptly and effectively. 

Here are the top 5 tips for effectively dealing with poor employee performance:

1. Establish The Core Performance Issue

As a team manager, you might occasionally observe that there’s an issue within your team, but you may not be certain about the root cause. 

The initial step is to determine the performance issue to handle poor team performance effectively. 

To do this, it is crucial to gather data and evidence related to the employee’s performance, including any relevant metrics or performance indicators. 

This might include data related to team productivity, quality of work, customer satisfaction, or other relevant factors.

By taking this first step, you can also determine the extent of the problem and how long it has been present before you became aware of it.

2. Communicate With Your Employees And Develop a Plan for Their Performance

Improving employee performance can be a cost-effective alternative to hiring or training new employees. 

Although struggling employees may have difficulty meeting expectations, they likely possess valuable product or service knowledge that is still contributing to profitability.

Here are some steps to help you communicate with your employees and develop an action plan to improve their performance:

  1. Schedule regular one-on-one meetings with each employee to discuss their performance, goals, and progress. These meetings should be held at least once a quarter or more frequently if necessary.
  2. During the meetings, provide constructive feedback and offer suggestions on how employees can improve their performance. Encourage them to ask questions and provide feedback on their own progress.
  3. Set clear goals and expectations for each employee, and ensure they understand their expectations. Ensure that these goals align with the overall goals of the organization.
  4. Identify areas where employees need support and training to improve their performance. Offer training opportunities or other resources to help employees develop new skills or improve existing ones.
  5. Develop a performance improvement plan for employees who are struggling to meet expectations. This plan should outline specific steps employees can take to improve their performance and a timeline for achieving these goals.
  6. Monitor and track employee progress regularly, and adjust the plan as needed. Celebrate successes and offer support and guidance to employees who are struggling.
  7. Use case studies to see what’s worked and what hasn’t, rather than testing things yourself. Sites like LinkedIn are great for finding reports and webinars of what techniques industry leaders are using to lead their teams. Sometimes you can even get some mentoring, or sign up for mentoring for your team members. Make it a team building exercise.

By doing so, managers can help struggling employees improve their performance, contributing to the organization’s success while fostering a positive and supportive work environment.

Providing specific examples of situations where employees are struggling and tailored solutions can be an effective way to help them improve their performance. 

It is important to follow up with employees to monitor their progress regularly and offer added support if required. 

3. Use the Correct Performance Management Tools

Most employers often consider terminating an employee a stressful, costly, and last resort option.

However, several performance management tools are available to prevent reaching this point.

For example, if you want to encourage team communication and creativity, consider using team-building games.

As a leader, selecting the right tools to assist your team members in enhancing their performance, collaborating effectively, and receiving constructive feedback is crucial. 

While various tools are available, the following key tools can prove highly beneficial.

(i.) Employee Scheduling Tools

Employee scheduling tools can be a useful performance management tool, especially for struggling employees who need additional support to improve their performance. 

Here are some ways employee scheduling tools can help struggling employees:

  • Assign Tasks Based On Employee Strengths: By assigning tasks that employees are good at, managers can help struggling employees build confidence and improve their performance.
  • Schedule Additional Training: Employee scheduling tools can help managers schedule additional training sessions for struggling employees. Managers can help employees develop the skills they need to succeed by providing targeted training and development opportunities.
  • Monitor Employee Workload: These tools can help managers monitor employee workload and ensure that struggling employees are not overwhelmed with too much work. 

By assigning tasks based on employee strengths, scheduling additional training, and monitoring employee workload, managers can help struggling employees improve their performance and achieve their goals.

(ii.) Time Tracking Tools

Time tracking tools are software or applications that allow employees to record the time spent on different tasks or projects. 

These tools are commonly used by freelancers, remote workers, and businesses to monitor performance and manage workloads.

Some time tracking tools help:

  • Identify Productivity Issues: Time tracking tools can help managers to identify productivity issues quickly by tracking the time employees spend on different tasks.
  • Set Performance Expectations: By using time tracking tools, managers can set clear performance expectations for employees, i.e., determining clear-cut timeframes for each specific task.
  • Monitor Progress: These tools can also help managers to monitor employee progress over time. Managers can identify trends and patterns that can be used to improve performance, track progress toward goals, and make data-driven decisions.
  • Improve Accountability: Time tracking tools can help to improve accountability by providing managers with real-time data on employee performance. This can help managers to identify employees who are not meeting expectations and take corrective action.

Time tracking tools like Buddy Punch help improve employee performance, increase efficiency, and contribute to the organization’s success.

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(iii.) Project Management Tools

Project management tools can be an effective performance management tool to help teams to work collaboratively and manage projects efficiently. Businesses can use project management tools to:

  • Improve Collaboration: Project management tools can help teams to work collaboratively on projects by providing a centralized platform for sharing information and collaborating on tasks. This can help to improve communication, reduce duplication of effort, and increase accountability.
  • Better Organization: These tools can also help to keep projects organized by providing a clear overview of tasks, timelines, and deadlines. This can help managers prioritize tasks, identify potential roadblocks, and adjust the project plan as needed.
  • Enhance Productivity: Project management tools can help to improve productivity by providing teams with a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities, as well as the overall project goals. 
  • Real-Time Data Analysis: These tools can provide employers with real-time data analysis, allowing them to make data-driven decisions quickly. This can help to identify potential issues or roadblocks, make adjustments to the project plan, and optimize team performance.

Employers can reduce the need for terminations and help employees to improve their performance and contribute to the success of the organization by using the above-mentioned tools. 

4. Know When It’s Time To Fire An Employee

If you’ve made efforts to enhance an employee’s performance, but it has not yielded satisfactory results, it might be necessary to consider termination. 

Here are some signs that it may be time to let an employee go:

  • Poor Job Performance: If an employee consistently fails to meet job requirements or does not produce quality work, it may be time to let them go.
  • Negative Attitude: If an employee has a consistently negative attitude or is disruptive to the workplace, it can affect morale and productivity.
  • Violation Of Company Policies: If an employee violates company policies, such as theft, harassment, or dishonesty, it can be grounds for termination.
  • Lack Of Accountability: If an employee consistently fails to take responsibility for their actions and blames others for their mistakes, it can be a red flag.
  • Insubordination: If an employee refuses to follow company policies or the directives of their supervisor, it can be a serious problem.

However, before initiating the termination process, ensure you have completed the following steps:

  1. Address the person directly about the performance issue.
  2. Ask the employee if they are aware of the “why” of their poor performance.
  3. Give resources for skill development.
  4. Evaluate your motivation structure. 
  5. Reward employee efforts and results. 
  6. Have goal-setting meetings with your team. 

Concrete examples and data are essential to support your decision to terminate an employee. 

You can avoid bringing any personal judgments into the equation by showing that the termination is due to a difference between individual and corporate missions.

Firing an employee is never easy, but a professional approach in these difficult conversations can help mitigate any legal issues. 

Of course, you need an HR representative present during the termination session to safeguard both the company’s interests and those of the soon-to-be former employee.

5. Follow Up With Your Employee

It is important to follow up with the team members regularly to provide support to them as they strive to improve their performance. 

Monitoring team members’ progress helps you comprehend their capabilities and predict their ability to achieve business objectives established in their improvement plan. 

Your encouragement and interest in their performance are crucial to instilling confidence and loyalty within the team member toward the organization. 

What is Performance Management?

Performance management is the process of setting goals, assessing progress, and providing feedback and support to employees to improve their job performance.

The performance management process typically involves the following steps:

  • Setting Goals: Managers work with employees to set specific, measurable goals that align with the organization’s objectives.
  • Monitoring Progress: Managers regularly monitor employees’ progress towards their goals and provide feedback on their performance.
  • Providing Feedback: Managers provide feedback on employees’ strengths and areas for improvement, and offer support and guidance to help employees improve their performance.
  • Evaluating Performance: Managers evaluate employees’ performance against the goals that were set, and provide a rating or performance appraisal.
  • Rewarding Performance: Managers recognize and reward employees who have demonstrated exceptional performance, which can include promotions, bonuses, or other incentives.

The purpose of performance management is to align individual and team goals with the objectives of the organization, identify areas for improvement, and recognize and reward outstanding performance.

The VP of SAP SuccessFactors says, “There are so many factors influencing the effectiveness of the performance management process.” 

Performance management is a crucial skill for any leader. It can help them determine each team member’s capabilities and if they need to improve in certain areas.

Effective performance management provides employees with the tools and resources they need to succeed, such as training and development opportunities. 

By establishing a performance management system, organizations can create a culture of continuous improvement, encourage accountability, and foster employee engagement and motivation.

However, it’s important to ensure that the performance management data collected is relevant to your workplace and industry to ensure its usefulness in addressing your team’s specific needs and challenges.

Define Excellent and Poor Performance for Your Team

As a leader, it’s essential to establish goals, milestones, and standards to provide your team with a clear understanding of expectations. 

Gone are the days of relying on guesswork or waiting for annual performance reviews.

Most employees today anticipate straightforward instructions, fair job targets, and regular feedback.

Defining what constitutes excellent and poor performance in simple terms can significantly enhance employee performance. 

Standards for acceptable performance, especially for transfers or new hires, should be clearly established.

Above all, maintain frequent communication with your team members. Use one-on-one meetings to provide feedback and foster a culture of transparency and trust.

Why Is It Important To Manage Poor Performance?

As a team leader, it is important to manage poor performance in the workplace because of the advantages your business may realize when team members perform their job on time and to the best of their abilities. 

Here are some advantages of having these performance management skills:

1. Set Expectations For Your Team

It’s crucial that your team comprehends the performance level you have set for them, including the quality standards you anticipate in the work they produce.

2. Share a Disciplinary Process

As a manager, it’s necessary to establish a system of progressive discipline that can be implemented if an employee fails to follow procedures or performs poorly. 

The disciplinary action should provide clarity to the employee about the consequences of their actions and underscore the significance of their work.

3. Improve Communication and Trust

Effectively managing the poor performance of a team member can foster trust not only with them but also with the rest of the team. 

By addressing poor performance, you demonstrate to your colleagues that you value their hard work and positive attitude in the workplace.

Understanding the Basic Components of Employee Performance

Most business experts typically define employee performance as a combination of two factors: motivation and ability. 

Ability includes both the inherent aptitudes and skills that an employee possesses as well as any training, resources, and support provided by their employer.

Motivation can stem from two sources: intrinsic motivations, such as passion, commitment, and a sense of purpose, and extrinsic motivations, such as benefits, pay, and salary.

It’s not always easy to tell if one of your team members is working to the best of their capability. 

Is a person just playing dumb to coast through the day, or could they be confused by their role on your team? There are a few ways to determine this.

Identify and Address Ability Concerns in Underperforming Employees

Identifying ability concerns requires carefully analyzing the employee’s underperformance, behavior, and feedback from peers and supervisors.

Most often, you will find that these ability concerns start with the hiring or recruiting process.

  • Did this person have the right experience and skill for their position when you added them to your team?
  • Was this employee ready for a promotion or hire?
  • Is the employee engaged in their work?
  • Are they making a genuine effort but making a few noticeable improvements?

Company resources such as training materials can be beneficial in some cases, but they may not always be the solution for struggling employees. 

For instance, if an employee had excelled in a previous role but is now having difficulty in their current position, it is necessary to identify the root cause of their poor performance and determine what is missing.

  • What resources did they have in their previous role that they no longer have?
  • Did they previously have access to IT, logistics, or communication support?
  • Were they previously working mainly on their own but are now on a team?

Make an effort to identify the specific areas of an employee’s job that may be causing them difficulties and the tasks they perform easily. 

A possible solution might be to realign their strengths and provide training to enhance their weaker areas.

However, if this does not fix your employee’s issues, you may want to consider transferring the employee to a less challenging role.

Determine Motivation Problems Within Your Team

As previously discussed, an employee’s performance can also be influenced by motivation. 

If an employee possesses exceptional skills and experience but begins submitting substandard or delayed work, it is likely that their motivation has shifted.

In such a case, you will want to examine the motivation structure you have put into place.

  • Is the employee bored?
  • Can you invest in them by offering them a leadership opportunity?
  • Would they benefit from a more challenging role or project?
  • What are the consistent performance problems they are repeating?

When an employee’s work is not engaging or challenging, it can lead to a lack of motivation and negatively affect their performance. 

Even though intrinsic motivations can encourage employees to become more involved in their work, many individuals primarily show up to work for extrinsic motivations.

If a team member appears to be significantly lacking in motivation, it is crucial to identify what might have caused this change.

  • Did the employee recently get a pay reduction?
  • Did your company change its benefits plan?
  • Was the employee passed over for the promotion with a pay increase?

In most cases, finding ways to re-engage an unmotivated employee is more cost-effective than involving HR in firing, recruiting, and training a new employee. 

While there may be situations where letting an employee go is necessary, it is best to try and avoid this outcome if possible.

Most employees enjoy regular feedback in regard to their work. Be sure to set clear, tangible goals for employees that are struggling.

What Are The Causes of Poor Performance?  

To effectively address performance issues within your team, it’s crucial to identify the underlying cause. There can be various reasons for poor performance, as each employee is unique. 

Therefore, it’s important to analyze the root cause before implementing any corrective measures.

Here are some of the most common causes of poor performance at work:

1. Problems in Personal Life

Dealing with personal issues can significantly challenge one’s ability to perform well at work. 

Whether it is the fatigue that comes with taking care of children or the burden of medical problems, such problems can profoundly impact one’s work performance. 

If such issues arise, it may be helpful for both the employer and the employee to collaborate and find a temporary solution that can address the issue until it is resolved.

2. Burnout or Other Well-being Problems

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance between work and personal life can be challenging, and it is not uncommon for employees to experience burnout, mental health issues, or other well-being problems as a result. 

If an employee’s performance issues stem from burnout, a customized approach may be necessary to help them overcome this personal problem.

As an employer, providing employees with the necessary support and coaching may be essential to aid their recovery.

3. Workplace Conflict

Conflicts between colleagues in the workplace can be challenging to detect, and even subtle conflicts can lead to stress, distraction, and frustration for those involved. 

Consequently, workplace conflicts can have a detrimental effect on individual performance. 

However, if managed appropriately, conflicts can also be an opportunity for productivity and growth.

4. Skill Gaps

Employees may be tasked with a responsibility for which they lack the necessary skills and knowledge. 

However, the employee may be hesitant to acknowledge that they require assistance, resulting in them attempting to resolve the issue independently. 

In such situations, the employee requires support from a manager who can provide guidance and training to bridge their skill gap.

5. Lack of Motivation

Occasionally, employees may experience a deficiency of motivation, causing them to become indifferent toward their work. 

They may perceive their work as insignificant and, therefore, see no reason to exert effort. 

Moreover, they may feel swamped, uncertain about their job responsibilities, or uninterested, leading to decreased motivation and job performance.

Wrapping Up,

Ultimately, poor performance can be difficult to deal with. However, it does boil down to how you handle poor performance. 

There are many tips and tactics that you could employ or alter to improve performance from all sides. 

You should always approach dealing with poor performance in a professional and straightforward way.

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