Managing poor performance

Poor performance: nip it in the bud

Dealing with poor performance needn’t be a situation for managers to shy away from. The trick is to deal with the issues as soon as there’s a deviance from accepted performance.

If poor performance is allowed to continue it can become much more difficult to resolve.

So, our advice is to nip poor performance in the bud.

Managing poor performance

There are three basic stages for managing poor performance:

  1. What is the evidence?
    Identify the outputs and behaviours that have alerted you to the employee’s poor performance
  2. Why is this behaviour occurring?
    Discuss your findings and ask questions to uncover the root cause for the problem
  3. How can improvements be made?
    Develop a plan to address the issues and rectify the situation. Monitor and review regularly.

Getting to the root cause of poor performance

The reasons for poor performance generally fall into two categories:

  1. Ability
  2. Engagement



Failing to complete tasks. The assumption might be a lack of ability. But on further discussion other reasons may come to light. Do they have all reasonable resources at their disposal to carry out their tasks? Perhaps there’s some equipment they need or an upgrade to software that will help them complete their task more effectively.

Perhaps there’s a reluctance to delegate or it poor time management could be the problem. In both cases training will improve the ability to perform.

Outside influences

Perhaps the reasons for poor performance are out of their control. There may be outside influences created by either customers or suppliers that are preventing them carrying out their job. In this case they need to understand that it would have been better to bring the problem to their managers attention before it became an issue.


A lack of clear communication could be a contributor to poor performance. Is it completely clear to your employee what is expected of them? Misunderstandings can occur. Are goals in place and if they are, are they understood. Ambiguity could be the reason of poor performance.


The reason for poor performance could be due to lack of motivation.

How valued does your employee feel? A dip in performance could be due to lack of recognition in the past for a job well done.

If they have a lazy disposition and have been allowed to get away with if for too long, internal processes need to be addressed so that this behaviour is dealt with before it escalates. As we said at the beginning ‘nip it in the bud’.

There may be personal issues at home or health related problems that are affecting an employee’s performance. Sensitivity is required.

Expressing an interest and understating their situation can help manage the problem and alleviate stress.

Take action

As you can see the reasons for poor performance can be varied. Once the reasons have been identified it should become clear the actions that need to be taken to rectify the situation.

Remember to monitor and review regularly.

Having gone through this process with your employee it may flag up that some internal processes need to be improved or implemented.

This could include any of the following areas. We’ve provided easy links to find out more.

Appraisals – How do you know you are getting the best out of your staff?
Handling awkward conversations
Employee Engagement
Disciplinary procedure – what you should and shouldn’t do!

If you have an instance of poor performance and would like to discuss the best way to resolve the issue, please give us a call on  01737 336336 or email us.