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9 Steps on How To Handle Underperforming Employees

By Poyen Ramos on May 29, 2017

Often times, managers and supervisors have a few responsibilities that are less than enjoyable—performance evaluations. In another world, we all hope that all of our employees' evaluation results come out positive, that they were able to grow as an individual, and have made great contributions to the organization. However, it's not always rainbows and butterflies, there will always be instances where one or two poorly performing employees exist. This is where you're job as a manager or supervisor becomes a little challenging.

The challenge for managers is what to do with under performers. Again and again, some organizations don't reach their peak efficiency because they retain people who clearly are not doing their jobs. It’s easiest to ignore them and in fact that’s what usually happens. But ignoring the problem is not bliss; it's a formula to hinder your company's success.

It's not always easy, especially when you're not really keen on confrontations. But don't worry, it'll get easy with practice, and following these nine steps we've listed on how you handle a low performer.

To sum it all up, you need to keep in mind these 3C's:


Before you address the issue of under performance, you need to find out what’s going on in the employee’s life. If there are personal problems going on, and the employee has a history of good performance, find a way to work around the issue. They can still be saved.


Often times, employees under perform because they lack the necessary tools and or training. And it's your job to provide on-the-job coaching. Talk about the issues so that the employee understands where he’s falling short. Let him devise solutions for improvement. Talk about those solutions and agree on a timetable for improvement.


If in the case that there has been no improvement despite all your efforts, then you must come to the conclusion that they are not the right fit for the job. (Note: don’t pawn an under performer off on another department; that'll simply kick the issue over to another boss.)

The first two parts are easy, but firing an individual is definitely not. So tread carefully and work with HR on the situation, making sure you don't hit any grounds on employee labor codes. While it’s never easy confronting individuals about poor performance, tolerating it is a failure of leadership.

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