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How to Identify & Help Under performing Employees

If you’re a manager or an HR professional, at some point in your career, you’re going to have to deal with underperforming employees. Either as an HR person or as a manager, the productivity of the company’s employees or your team is your responsibility. So, what do you do when an employee is struggling to perform? How do you “fix” them?

In this article, we will touch upon these areas:

  1. Key Reasons for Under performance in Employees
  2. What Managers can do for Under performing Employees
  3. Steps to Uplift Under performing Employees

Key Reasons for Under performance in Employees

Sometimes, the employee’s struggle at their workplace. A rookie finds it challenging and comes unglued while adjusting to your company’s processes and perhaps an existing employee found to be taking on tighter deadlines for the work assignments. Many employees struggle with their output and in terms of overall productivity or simpler terms, they are unable to meet all the expectations. For more details, please check Dailygreatness on the personal development side.

Employees may also struggle due to some life events that occur in their personal lives like an ailing family member, divorce, death of someone very close to you. Struggling employees often found spending some sleepless nights, stressful days, and eventually missing out the important deadlines. Please refer to HeartMath LLC for more inputs for removing any kind of emotional stress at the workplace.

What Managers can do for Under performing Employees

However, as a manager, it is required to help them overcome their issues so that their performance can be improved. A patient, calm and collected attitude, being able to dig at employee’s problems helps their employees to become happier and more engaged at their workplaces. In these untoward circumstances where employees are seriously stricken, a manager should lend all the support to them so that they continue to perform at their workplace and simultaneously take care of themselves emotionally. Hiring the right kind of people and proper nurturing them at the workplace solves this problem to a larger extent. Also, regular feedback about their progress and thereby addressing the pain points helps boost productivity and leads to staff retention.  For more insights, please have a look at Simple Truths for more insights.

This certainly poses many challenges for the manager wherein you need to commiserate with the employees and simultaneously help them explain that personal and professional lives should not be mixed up and they need to still try to be productive to at least some degree for some time. Mindly.se is a great platform to help you dig into more into this aspect.

Steps to Uplift Under performing Employees

1.    Root Cause Analysis

The first step to solve any problem is to identify the root cause of it. Is that employee working fewer hours and that is making them less productive? Is that the employee is long waiting for their promotion and which is not being taken care of? Is that employee facing an issue in their personal life? Is that the employee needs a hike in their salary? Does that employee want a transfer to some other place? Is that the employee is facing a chip on their shoulder by their coworker or lead? Is that the employee feeling bored because of the mundane tasks offered to them for the long haul? All these questions need to be factored in before coming out with any conclusive decision. Justmind.de is a good website for this aspect for overall self-help and personality development.

2.    Open and Direct Communication

A candid discussion about the employee’s performance is really important. If you clear the air directly with an employee, this will help them to realize the gravity of the situation and it will also help you to guide them in a better way concerning their problem areas. You have to make no bones about the situation as soon as possible with an employee as any hold up in this situation can mar an employee’s career. For more insights, read online books on Soundview Executive Book Summaries.

3.    Make Yourself Approachable and Available

Make yourself so much approachable that the employee feels quite an ease and proactive to reach out to you in terms of their problems. If you accost someone then they will be running away from you and this will not do any good to them. Hence, invest time in building a good relationship with employees so that they can reach out to you for any of their daily issues. Also, try to be available in communicator or in-person so that it will prevent any procrastinations.

4.    Listen First, Then Suggest

When you speak regarding the current struggles of an employee, listen first instead of jumping onto the conclusions or suggestions or with some course of action. This will help an employee to open up and get the problems off their chest in a better way. On the contrary, if a manager does all the talking then it will result in a cul-de-sac.

5.    Know What You Can Offer

You may be willing to offer a grieving employee several weeks of leave, or pregnant women are given work from home, transferring the workload to some other employee, reducing the workload,etc.measures as far as the decision is within the bounds of company’s policies.

6.    Check-in Regularly

Just occasionally drop by to employee’s desks or leave a chat message, send them an email to get general know-how of overall things. Just pop them questions like “Can we stay connected to forgo surprises”.

7.    Do Not Pry

Your job is of a manager and not of a therapist or a shrink. Hence, empathize with an employee but not to the extent that they consider you privy to their innermost feelings as that is not professionalism.

8.    Be Transparent and Consistent

Make sure of the way you treat the problem of a struggling employee; in a similar way another employee would expect help from you when they run into difficult times. Hence, be transparent and consistent in your dealings. This will invoke a sense of trust and respect for you by them and they count on you thinking on the fact that they will be treated fairly as well.


Following these practices will certainly turn down some heart-wrenching moments to slowly convert into a jocund one and an aggrieved or suffering employee will bounce back and you as a manager will see a rally in performance and productivity of the suffering employee.  The employees will certainly be showcasing their A-game in the workplace.