Addressing the cause of underperformance is one of the best ways to deal with it.

Addressing underperformance in the workplace

Underperformance in the workplace is a common problem and it lies within employer responsibilities for it to be dealt with quickly and efficiently. There are various forms that underperformance can take – a worker might not be performing their duties at all, or may simply not complete them to the standard required. Behavioural issues are also included under this umbrella term, so if an employee is being disruptive or negative towards co-workers or not complying with policies, there should be cause for action. Recruiting the right people is the first step to addressing underperformance and ensuring that employees have the capacity to understand the criticism and build with it. 

One of the best ways to deal with underperformance is to address the causes of it – is the employee fully aware of what is expected of them? It might be the case that a worker’s capabilities do not correspond with the demands of the job, or that they have difficulties with interpersonal skills. Employers need to make sure that their staff are aware of what is expected of them, which may involve referring them to the induction manual, or providing them with further training. The key is to point out as soon as possible that their current levels of performance are not sufficient and continued non-performance will have consequences – failing to do so is likely to mean that the individual continues to behave in the same way.

When arranging the initial meeting, it is important to give the employee time to decide whether they want to bring a support person along with them. It is also essential to give them the right to respond to the issues that are being put before them. After the issue has been raised with the individual, the employer needs to ensure they continue to monitor performance to see if the required change is evident. If the situation still fails to improve, then managers need to consider taking further steps such as additional counselling, issuing a formal warning or ultimately employee dismissal.

A useful way to address underperformance is to have a meeting with the employee. In these meetings, it is important that everything is recorded and both you as the employer and the employee are aware of the standards and actions put in place after the meeting. Take a look at our Interview Record Template to ensure that you capture everything within the meeting. 

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Need to let an employee go? Use our letter of termination template to ensure you are using the correct format. 

termination letter template