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6 Tips to Handle Poor Performance in the Workplace

To ensure that your employees are working to the best of their abilities and you are crushing your business goals, you need to address poor performance quickly and effectively. In this article, we are going to show 6 tips to get your employees back on track!

Identify the Fundamental Per­for­mance Issues

If you want to improve an employee’s work performance, you first need to identify the exact aspect of their work you want them to improve. You must clearly define and state the issue. Without describing the problem in-depth, you won’t be able to fix it. To achieve this, you need to study what the employee is doing on a regular basis, gather and analyze data, and come up with specific findings.

For example, let’s say you have a sales rep that is consistently missing targets. You first start by looking at basic data such as the number of minutes on the phone and the number of phone calls. If the over sales reps are averaging 50 calls a day, and this rep is only making 30, then this is an obvious area of improvement. You could set a clear definable goal for your sales rep of making an average of 40 calls per day next month.

It is important that when you discuss an employee’s work performance that you remain calm and have evidence on hand. You need to avoid any personal attacks and focus on the specific area that needs addressing. You want to create an environment where the employee believes you want to help them become the best version of themselves.

Dis­cuss the Underlying Cause of Per­for­mance Issues

While it is all well and good setting a goal for an employee to address a specific performance issue – if you don’t figure out what has led to the performance issue, it won’t get solved. Finding the root cause of the problem is vital because if this goes unaddressed, the employee will not change their poor habits. For example, if you set a goal for your sales rep to make 40 calls every day, but you haven’t figured out that the sales rep is struggling to make calls because they feel uncomfortable sitting next to a particular coworker, then they will likely fail to hit the goal.

When trying to find out an underlying cause of work performance issues, ask your employee a variety of questions in a friendly and caring manner. You do not want to pry into their personal lives, but you want them to feel comfortable about opening up and sharing issues. Once an employee has shared the cause of an underlying problem, you can then work to address it first and then focus on their work performance.

Deliver Feed­back Right Away

It is tempting to just sweep issues under the rug and play them down their importance. Unfortunately, this often results in problems worsening! You should be holding regular performance reviews no matter how uncomfortable they may be. Remember, it is much easier to address performance issues in the early phase than later on.

Don’t be scared about providing regular feedback. Did you know that over 90% of workers want to hear feedback that will improve their importance? When providing feedback, you should focus on being honest and direct. You want to avoid shouting or getting emotional as this will lead to your employees rejecting your advice no matter how good it is.

We recommend holding regular one-on-one meetings with your employees and giving them clear and actionable feedback. This feedback should be recorded, and then you should create goals for your employees around incorporating this feedback. Then in subsequent meetings, you can check on their progress.

Develop Effective Solu­tions to Combat the Under­ly­ing Cause

You’re not helping anyone by confronting an employee, telling them that their performance is terrible, and firing them. Your company will decline and lose millions if you are constantly hiring and firing people.

While your workers are expected to perform their duties to the best of their abilities, you as an employer are expected to provide them with the support they need to succeed. Just remember, the more support your employ­ees receive, the more effective they will be, and the better your company will operate.

An effective strategy to improve your employee’s performance is to use a Per­for­mance Improve­ment Plan (PIP). With this concrete plan, you and your employee can come with goals that need to be met and prac­ti­cal steps that must be taken to achieve these goals. Through collaborating on a PIP, you can help your employee get back on track and back to crushing it at work.

Use Per­for­mance Man­age­ment Software

Per­for­mance man­age­ment software can help you track what your employees are achieving on a daily, monthly and yearly basis. It also allows you to track their performance in relation to goals you have set for them and can help you record all of the feedback you have provided. If you want to invest in your employees and ensure they help you meet your business goals, then why not try SignalHire? SignalHire can act as performance management software and play a vital role in motivating and inspiring your employees.

Dis­ci­pli­nary Action

While you should always do your best to improve your employees’ performance, sometimes the best option is to dismiss them. If you have exhausted all possible options and given them numerous opportunities to improve their performance, then it is time to consider letting them go. However, make sure you have tried a performance improvement plan, come up with actionable goals and really tried to fix the underlying cause of the performance issues.

While it is sad to fire someone, you need to think of it as a new opportunity to find an employee who is a better fit for your company. With free space, you now have the chance to find an employee who will champion your company, who understands your culture, and is as motivated as you are about achieving your firm’s goals. To improve your chances of finding this perfect employee, you need to get your recruitment metrics right! Make sure you hold several rounds of interviews and find someone who has shown the ability to crush it in a similar role. Don’t be afraid to be patient and wait until you find that ideal candidate who can play a key role in elevating your business to the next level!


Improving poor work performance is not an easy thing to deal with. However, if you follow our tips, you should be able to get your wayward employees back on track and get them involved in helping you meet your business goals. Remember to follow our steps in order and really believe that you have the power to fix your employees’ performance, but at the same time, don’t shy away from dismissing workers who are not the right fit.

About Shane Avron

Shane Avron is a freelance writer, specializing in business, general management, enterprise software, and digital technologies. In addition to Flevy, Shane's articles have appeared in Huffington Post, Forbes Magazine, among other business journals.

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