Most managers don’t particularly enjoy having to confront an employee about issues they may be having, but if an employee is underperforming – it is time to take action and find out why. If these situations are left without action, they can quite easily become worse so it is important to deal with it quickly and in the most efficient way possible. These are some ways actions to take if an employee is underperforming.

Informal chat

It is important to gain an understanding of why the employee is underperforming. If they usually perform well, it may be that something else is affecting their abilities to perform and it is worth finding out what this may be, before making a decision on how to proceed. An informal chat is always a good way to start, as the employee may be unaware that there are any issues with their performance. It is important to be able to back up any problems with examples, as this way it looks more like an open discussion and it gives the employee the opportunity to express their opinion on the issues raised. Although this is an informal chat initially, it is important to keep documentation on what was discussed and the outcome of it.

Make a plan

The employee will need clear objectives to meet in order to improve their performance. For example, if they are constantly missing deadlines, what plans can be put in place to ensure they start to make improvements in this area? It may be that they need to track the deadline dates more carefully through calendar alerts. If they are making mistakes in calculations, maybe they need more training in this area to help them improve. If there are set plans in place to address the issues, it will make it easier to overcome these, without taking any drastic action.

Regular reviews

If the employee’s performance has started to improve after the initial meeting and plan – great! However, that doesn’t mean that you just leave it there, as it could quite easily slip back into the old patterns, if you don’t monitor it properly. There should be regular reviews to ensure the employee is back on track. If their performance has greatly improved, this can be a good way to give them a pat on the back and let them know their positive contribution is appreciated. It is important to make sure that you undertake regular reviews for all employees though – as otherwise, it could look like you are singling out one individual.

Formal disciplinary

This is the last resort – but if the employee’s performance does not improve, it is likely that a formal disciplinary process will be required. Although you can make some allowances for a dip in performance, if it is on-going, it will affect your business in the long term. The disciplinary process would usually consist of a verbal warning and would then move on to the more serious written warnings, before dismissal.

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