When everything is going smoothly, managing employees is easy. But every once in awhile, there’s a hiccup, and someone doesn’t perform as well as they’re expected to. In those situations, it’s important to confront the situation as soon as you can. Don’t hope that you can ignore it, and the issue will disappear. Ignoring it will only make it worse. Plus, it suggests to your other employees that mediocrity or underperformance is acceptable, and it’s not.

A Guide to Confronting an Underperforming Employee

Time it well 

Timing is everything, especially when it comes to potentially uncomfortable confrontations. Call the person in privately for a one-on-one conversation when it’s not an emotionally charged situation—when you’re not mad or frustrated, and they’re not feeling down on themselves or defensive. Make it a dialogue, where both you and the employee are listening and offering feedback. 

Use data 

Stay focused on the facts; don’t use hearsay or other people’s opinions. Use specific examples to showtimes when the employee didn’t do what they’re supposed to do. Then explain how that shortcoming affects other employees and the health and wellbeing of the whole company.  

Ask about the problem 

Don’t assume that you know why the issue has come up. Instead, ask the employee what’s really going on. It might be something obvious like a lack of motivation or something that you don’t even know about, like a personal stressor or that the employee doesn’t feel challenged enough. 

Work together 

Commit to working together to come up with a solution. Let them give their input and take ownership of the issue. If you simply give orders about what to do, they’ll tune out and disengage. Instead, make them feel empowered and inspired to achieve success. If they need additional training, resources, mentoring, tools or equipment, make sure they get it.  

Follow up appropriately 

Set a timeline of when you’ll check in again, perhaps every few weeks or so. Track their progress, help them when they need challenges, and empower them to problem solve. When there’s been an improvement or a goal has been met, celebrate that with recognition and praise. If appropriate, also offer a personalized and sincere gift, like a handwritten note or a gift card.  


This probably won’t be the last underperforming employee you deal with. The key is to make them feel empowered and appreciated as well as support them in their professional development. Once there seems to be nothing more you can do for them, and no improvement has been made, it might be time to let that person go. For more tips on managing and motivating your employeescontact PrideStaff Denver Northwest today.   


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