Turning Around An Underperforming Employee

If you have an employee that is underperforming, you must act to ensure that things turn around.  You cannot afford poor performance on your team no matter how good things are going otherwise.

You might use my Three Types of Employees Model to detect issues.

Your call to action may be:

  • A new employee who is not learning as fast as expected.
  • An employee not keeping up to standards.
  • An employee not building skills to keep up with today’s reality.
  • An employee has behavioral issues.

So, what should you do?

First, mind the Pygmalion Effect: You must keep your expectations of your underperformers appropriately high.  That is extremely important, because people will live down to your low expectations if you don’t.

Next, ensure that you use all of the Employee Development Best Practices.

Follow those best practices scrupulously.  Many times, the issue is simply that your expectations are not clear, you are not giving continual clear feedback or they need training, coaching, or mentoring.  Double down…  make sure that they have been done to the fullest.

If that doesn’t work, it is time to up the pressure. Let’s use a new tool.  Most companies have a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP).  If yours does not, the necessary components are:

  • The exact behavior and / or results that must be achieved in crystal clear terms.
  • A crystal clear date when the change(s) must be made.
  • The clear ramifications if the change(s) are not made.  Typically, the ramifications are either demotion, transfer or termination.  A note of caution:  Demotions rarely work (less than 20% of the time).  Egos are fragile and it is hard to accept a demotion.
  • A place for the employee to sign indicating that they have received the information contained in the PIP (but not necessarily that they agree with it).

80% of the time, the PIP will not work, if you have been following the employee development best practices.  The 20% of the time when it works, it is because the employee needs a crystal clear reality check.

Your employee might need the jolt from something as clear as a PIP, and, therefore, it might make the difference.

Best of luck!  I hope that things turn around.

Just my opinion.  What do you think?  Let me know in the comments.

If you find value in this article, please share it with others that may also find 

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#PerformanceImprovementPlan #EmployeeDevelopment #CorrectiveAction #PIP #PygmalionEffect

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