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Poor Performance

Published August 10, 2023 (last updated on April 18, 2024) | Adam Wyatt - Copywriter and Content Creator

Managing poor performance in the workplace is an often undesirable but necessary task for managers.

Things can go wrong if not handled with care and respect to an individual’s unique circumstances. Fortunately, there are steps employers can take to manage the situation without impacting the working relationship.

It is recommended employers deal with poor performance quickly, as the problem does not usually solve itself. Depending on the type of performance issue, this can be done in an informal or formal manner.

What Constitutes Poor Performance?

Poor performance or underperformance is a person’s inability to do their job and failing to meet the standards required of the company. Poor performance can manifest into the workplace in a number of ways, such as:

  • Inability to fulfil the standards and expectations of an employee’s role

  • Failing to ensure work is completed within a required timeframe

  • Repeated errors in work

Some of these contributing factors fall on the responsibility of the employee. However, it is important to not assume an employee is intentionally underperforming, but instead find out why the employee is underperforming.

Common Reasons for Poor Performance

Many cases of poor performance come from a simple misunderstanding or lack of ability to satisfy the assigned role or position. Some cases are more complex and require a tailored approach to manage the situation.

Some of the most common reasons for poor work performance include:

  • Misunderstanding of standards and expectations for the job

  • Not enough training or support

  • Personal reasons or sickness

  • Work-related stress

  • Workplace bullying

  • Low morale or job satisfaction

When it comes to new employees who are underperforming, they might not fully understand the job description and performance expectations. In this case, extra guidance and support will help ease them into their role.

If the employee is a long-term member who has performed well in the past, there could be a deeper underlying issue needing to be addressed.

How to Manage Poor Performance

Managing poor performance can be done in an informal or formal process. Depending on the type of performance and scale of the problem, one method may be more effective than the other.

Not all cases of poor work performance need a structured process. Sometimes informal intervention is the quickest and most effective way to resolve minor issues. This may include:

  • Giving verbal feedback on the spot

  • Allocating a buddy to help the employee

  • Providing extra coaching and mentoring

  • Giving the employee a written list of tasks to manage their duties

If an informal approach does not address the issue, it may be necessary to establish a performance improvement plan (PIP).

A PIP is designed to give employees the support they need to improve their skills over a reasonable period of time. By encouraging an open dialogue and constructive feedback, both parties can work together to identify the key issues and work towards improving performance.

Transferring, Demoting or Dismissing an Underperforming Employee

If the PIP proves to be unsuccessful, an employer can choose to transfer or demote the employee, or decide to terminate their employment entirely in accordance with correct procedure. In any case, an employer should be sure to follow the correct process and keep a record of all relevant information to avoid any chances of an unjustified disadvantage or unjustified dismissal claim.

For more advice on poor performance management in the workplace, contact Employsure on 0800 568 012.

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