How to Identify and Manage Underperformance at Work

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Underperformance, or poor performance, is when a member of staff isn’t meeting the standard of work that you expect or their productivity is low.
But how do you identify this type of behaviour and what can you do to combat it?

It’s usually quite easy to spot under-performance when you have a strong performance management strategy in place. If you set weekly or monthly targets or have regular deadlines and an employee is just not meeting them, then this will be your first indication.
You can also monitor their output against previous months or other members of their team and see if there is a noticeable dip or a large disparity between them.

It may not always be so easy to recognise underperformance if there are no KPI’s in place which is why it is often recommended that you have some sort of performance monitoring set up for all employees.
Once you have clearly identified poor performance, it’s important that you address it as soon as possible.

Set up a meeting with the employee to discuss their performance and find out if there are underlying circumstances affecting their work such as health issues, things going on at home, bullying in the workplace, demanding workload or just struggling to understand their role.

It may be a simple enough issue to resolve once you are aware of what the problem is; however, it may be a little more complicated if there is no obvious cause for their underperformance.

You should always give employees a fair chance to improve, so before making any rash decision you should try implementing a strategy with the employee and monitor them closely for the following weeks.

Set your informal action plan by letting the employee know what is expected of them, providing them with regular feedback, introducing some training if necessary and agreeing on a time frame for when you expect to see improvements.
Also, inform them as to what may happen if they do not demonstrate improvements in their performance so that they are aware of the consequences and may even be more motivated by this.

Ensure that you have a clear audit trail of the above to avoid any repercussions further down the line and revisit the issue in a follow up meeting once the deadline has been reached.

These types of meetings and discussions can be difficult to have so our HR consultants are on hand to chair any employee meetings that you need to conduct and offer professional advice if you need it.

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