Effective Ways to Improve Poor Employee Performance

Author ProFlow Learning Centre, 29 days ago |

The success of an organisation depends on the way its employees perform. However, it can be very hard to define what a high performing team or employee is. It’s much easier to spot poor performance. For that reason, we’re giving managers some of the most effective ways to improve poor employee performance

Managers must know how to maximise employee potential and motivate those with low morale. But then, the first step to improving employee performance is knowing why the employee underperforms in the first place. 

Once managers know what causes the employee’s poor performance, solving the problem will become a bit easier. If the employee’s reason for underperformance is valid, then managers must proceed with fixing that issue.

Improve poor employee performance

How to Improve Poor Employee Performance

Communication is the key to improving performance in the workplace. Managers must be careful not to jump to conclusions. They must give the underperforming employee the chance to defend him or herself.  

Discuss specific instances when the employee fails to perform and address that issue. Two of the most common indicators of poor performance are tardiness and absenteeism. Therefore, asking the employee why he or she is always out or late for work gives managers a good idea of what to fix. 

By objectively looking into the problem, managers can provide a better solution. Here are some of the most effective ways to address employee performance issues. 

Address the problem

As stated earlier, an employee underperforms for a reason. But before managers even get to that, they must be clear as to what performance metric the employee failed to meet and provide their feedback about it. Providing effective feedback is one of the strongest traits of a good manager and leader. 

Giving effective feedback means letting the employee know that there’s a problem without initiating an attack on their personality. The goal is to let that employee walk away from the conversation knowing exactly what to do to solve the problem. Kim Scott’s take on Radical Candor can help. 

Call a meeting with the employee and investigate the reason for his or her underperformance. Find out the real reason for the issue and address it accordingly. If the problem is more of a professional matter than personal, then be prepared to put some changes in place, such as additional training for the rest of the team, for example. 

Set clear goals

Once the problem has been addressed, it’s time to set new goals for the underperforming employee. Consider the issues that cause the employee’s poor performance. Managers may give some leeway, but they have to be very clear when it comes to expectations. 

Let the underperforming employee know what he or she has to achieve within a specific timeframe. They should also know what may happen in case they fail to meet those expectations.  

The new goals set for the employee should be tailored to his or her needs. Let that employee know that you’ll be closely monitoring his or her performance in the coming days. With clear communication and regular checking of progress, the employee should be motivated enough to give their best. 

Prioritise employee development 

Managers must not be quick in jumping into conclusions when faced with poor performance in the workplace. Instead of acting harsh and inconsiderate, managers should find ways on how they can further develop the skills and capabilities of their direct reports. 

Most employees get motivated when they see how much the company is investing in their learning and development. Training employees will not just make them better at their jobs. They will also become better fit to assume other roles in the organisation. 


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Reward improvement and action the lack of it 

Letting employees know that their efforts to improve is highly appreciated and can turn things around. A simple recognition could turn a poorly performing employee into a highly motivated one. Recognition doesn’t always have to come in the form of gifts or monetary compensation. Verbal praises are oftentimes good enough. 

As managers are encouraged to be quick in recognising progress, they should also be quick in acting on non-compliance. After setting clear goals and expectations and the employee still fails to improve his or her performance, a formal reprimand may have to come next. 

Reprimanding employees the right way makes them understand how the management is serious about its expectations of performance. Reprimands may be given through a verbal or written warning. When doing this, the proper way of providing employee feedback should be followed. 

Encourage continual communication 

Managers should give employees who are under strict performance review more time and guidance. Encourage them to keep communicating or reach out whenever they encounter other issues. 

Managers should also make sure that the employee was able to handle any constructive criticism. Getting negative feedback can be very uncomfortable for the employee. Managers have to make sure that employees take feedback professionally and not personally. 

Furthermore, managers must also take steps in improving employees’ morale. The first step is to provide them with a positive working environment. Employees who are happy with their work tend to perform better. It’s important for managers to make employees feel valued. They should state the reason why it’s important for the employee to improve his or her performance. 

Manage performance 

Efficient performance management should be the ultimate goal of managers. Performance management works day in and day out whereas appraisals are usually an annual thing. Performance management requires an in-depth understanding of what employees need to do their jobs better. 

Managing employee performance also means supporting employees and making them feel valued. It’s all about maximising whatever resources the company has to set them up for success. 

How to improve poor employee performance


Managers can measure employee performance using different tools and considering many factors. Even so, they should cultivate a healthy and positive workplace fuelled by open communication. Managers should also help employees create concrete goals and provide them with ongoing training. By doing so, employees become motivated and empowered to grow, succeed and achieve.

Success happens when all employees are performing well. Furthermore, it’s easier to train employees once it becomes clear what areas they need help in the most. Managers and their direct reports have to constantly talk about productivity and performance improvement.

Additionally, managers must not consider these things only when the time for the next appraisal review comes around. Managers should always review this guide on how to improve poor employee performance to boost productivity in the workplace.