Poor Employees Performance: Actionable Steps to Take

Poor Employees Performance: Actionable Steps to Take

Employee performance can be the most critical factor in a company, as it reflects how people work and achieve the company’s goals. At the same time, we sometimes have underperformers. It can backfire, sabotaging the performance of the organization.

Under-performance is when employees perform their responsibilities below a level they are expected to perform. However, facing poor performance is an emotional question.

It is no wonder that most of us find it hard to tackle. Learning to manage poor employee performance is vital, so let’s take action.

How to Cope with Poor Employee Performance

Underperformance is a common problem we sometimes face across all levels of employees. However, the following measures may help address unsatisfactory workplace performance:

1. Face it, there’s a problem. 

Be careful under this circumstance. Frustration often strikes us, leading us to blindly personify those who don’t fit into expected behaviors. The following are some indications of poor performance:

  • Disconnection of responsibilities.
  • Lower job quality.
  • Recurrent delays or absences. 
  • Less interaction with coworkers.

As people show these signs, we need to take the next steps. Start to understand how they suffer from the job and how expectations are not met. Then let’s have a one-on-one session.

2. Address their expectations.

Work expectations can lead to situations in which they would not have been able to outperform. During this private meeting, we could hear their specific requests regarding pay, career development, ethics and employer values, job security, etc.

As managers, we need to determine what underperforming employees expect from their work and the organization. It is a good time to talk about adjusting their expectations.

3. Work together on a plan of action.

Once we have discussed the problems and causes of underperformance, we can develop an action plan to address them. We can make it more transparent by fixing the problem and encouraging people to have targets and recommendations.

To improve it, look for opportunities for redesign or retraining/requalification based on issues.

How to Deal with Underperforming Employees with No Improvements

So what actions are needed when things worsen and we don’t see any improvement? As managers, we must avoid further negative impacts on the company because of this problem. Here are a few things we can do if nothing is improved:

1. Create a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP).

Along with the employee, develop a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP).

The PIP should include specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals the employee must achieve. The PIP should also outline the consequences if the employee does not meet the targets.

2. Monitor their progress.

Monitor the employee’s progress on an ongoing basis and provide feedback on their performance.

Suppose they don’t meet the objectives set out in the PIP. In that case, we may need to take other actions, such as offering additional training or coaching or considering disciplinary action.

3. Consider disciplinary measures.

If the employee does not improve despite organizational efforts to support them, we may need to consider disciplinary action. It may include verbal warnings, written warnings, suspensions, or dismissals.

4. Apply for a legal opinion.

Before taking disciplinary action, it is important to seek legal advice to ensure we are following the proper procedures and not putting our company at legal risk.

Do’s & Don’ts of Providing Feedback to Underperformers

Addressing poor performance quickly and directly is key to solving the problem. But remember, feedback needs to be constructive to help people grow.

Here are a few things we can and cannot do to provide feedback to a lower-performing employee:


  • Be specific and constructive with feedback.
  • Be encouraging and talk about how to make positive change.
  • Enhance their development and growth within the organization.
  • Be kind and sympathetic when we deliver.


  • Discuss everything in need of improvement. Focus only on 1-2 manageable questions at once.
  • Express negative emotions. It’s easy to get frustrated because it puts too much pressure on us.
  • Use absolute ultimatums like “if you can’t do this in time, then there’s no hope for you.

Keep in mind that addressing performance issues is about helping people thrive as much as possible. By deepening employee performance, we can uncover problems and formulate future improvements for the best in our people.