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Blog  »  July 2022  »  Tips for Dealing with Underperforming Employees - Blog
Jul 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Tips for Dealing with Underperforming Employees

Poor employee performance can affect not only their immediate team but also the wider business. When colleagues see an employee slacking, their own motivation can decrease.

In some cases, an employee may be genuinely trying but is struggling to hit their targets or meet the needs of the business. On the other hand, an employee may be more than capable but not as bothered when it comes to hitting their targets.

These tips may help you deal with underperforming employees.

Know what you want from the employee

To identify if an employee is underperforming you need to be aware of what you want from them. It’s important to know that the employee must be aware of the required standards of the business.


When addressing the performance issue for the first time, you should approach it informally with the employee. A simple conversation with the employee will make sure the issue is not unaddressed.

Let the individual know that there are concerns

The first practical step is to let the employee know that you have concerns regarding their performance in the workplace. This should be done privately with the employee. This isn’t a formal meeting so there is no need to formally invite the employee with notice. It’s best to approach this conversation in a friendly manner.

Identify the problem

There should be inquiries to the reason for the employee’s underperformance. This is necessary to establish what action you need to take. If they have the capacity to perform better but simply choose not to, they need to be told to improve.

If they’re trying hard to do the job but still can’t perform well, that’s the problem and you should identify how you can help them for example providing training or supervision. If it’s a medical reason, it may be necessary to obtain an expert medical opinion.

Make them aware of the consequences

Although you’re dealing with the issue informally, you should inform the employee that if there are no signs of improvement you may need to begin a formal procedure with them.


If the employees’ performance doesn’t improve, the issue should be revisited. You should speak to the employee again, pointing out your previous discussion and any help that you provided and that it doesn’t appear to have any effect.

Formal Procedure

If no sufficient improvement or explanation is provided, you should consider implementing a formal disciplinary or capability procedure with the employee. Formal hearings should be held where the employee is permitted to respond to the concerns you have. Employees should be formally invited to these hearings, allowed the right to be accompanied and formal sanctions, e.g. warnings may be given where appropriate.

Additionally to these tips you need to remember to communicate clearly with each employee. Ensure the employee is clear on the objectives they’ve been set and on the consequences of their underperformance.

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Posted in Dismissals, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook


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