Approaching an Employee About Poor Performance

Here comes the hard part of your job: having a conversation with an employee about their poor work performance. But it’s a conversation you have to have. If you don’t tackle this issue as soon as you recognize it, the problem will only worsen, and the conversation will get more complicated.

Here’s how you can address poor performance with an employee.


Don’t Label the Employee

Use numbers and evidence that their performance has declined, but don’t make them feel like they’re being attacked or label them as a “poor performer.” This makes it seem like there’s no hope to get better or that you’re judging them unfairly. Instead, use specific examples and ask whether they agree. Work together to improve, don’t reprimand.


Ask About Outside Issues

You don’t have to be nosy, but find out if something is going on outside of work that’s affecting their work. It might be an issue you already know about, like a new baby, a death in the family, or planning a wedding. You don’t need to know every detail of their personal life, but if you know what the issue is, you’ll know how big the problem is and how long it might last.


Inquire About Awareness

Did the employee know they weren’t performing well? Sometimes an employee doesn’t even realize their work is subpar. And if that’s the case, it’s your job as a manager to make sure they’re getting regular feedback to understand expectations. The effort is there; they just need a little more training and preparation.


Find Out About Their Effort

Some employees know their work isn’t great, but they think it’s acceptable. Perhaps no one checks their work so they can get away with minimal effort. If that’s the case, find out why. Is the work too hard? Do they understand what their contributions mean to your company? Explain that others are counting on them. Talk to them about how important their work is to their coworkers and to the whole organization. When they don’t complete their tasks, the whole team suffers.


Establish a Plan

The plan you develop will depend on the root cause of their poor performance. At the very least, you probably need to map out a schedule for you to meet again and check over their work fairly frequently so things don’t get out of hand again. After that, you might want to enroll them in courses for more training or pair them with a mentor who can check in with them and show them the ropes. If it’s a personal problem that’s affecting their work, be patient, and work with them to alter their schedule as needed. You might allow them to work remotely or take some time off, whatever works for your team.


For more tips on how approaching an employee about poor performance, contact Pridestaff Thousand Oaks today.