6 steps to fixing an underperforming employee

underperforming employee

You will be surprised how many businesses are unable to avoid making common hiring mistakes, and end up regretting the employee they recruit. If you do make a bad hiring decision though, do you know how to handle an underperforming employee who doesn't meet expectations? There are various options available to you as an employer to grow a successful team, involving different levels of intervention.

One thing's for sure, you can't simply brush this issue under the rug. Underperforming employees can impact on productivity, team morale, the atmosphere in the office and ultimately your organisation's bottom line. They can add to costs and also impact on revenues.

Here are some of the steps you can potentially take to solve the problem of an underperforming employee:

1. Conduct a performance review

First and foremost, you need to ensure the employee understand the demands of the job, and what is expected of them. Then you need to establish whether they have the means and resources necessary to perform to the required level. A good place to do this is in a performance review. It may be the case that providing employee training or allocating a mentor can help them get up to speed.

2. Give the employee time

It can take some professionals a little longer than others to learn their new role. If they are putting in the effort and showing small signs of improvement, it may just be a case of trying to nurture the employee and bring them on gradually. You can monitor the situation closely and delay more direct intervention until you are sure it is 100 per cent necessary.

3. Talk to the employee

Underperforming employees may not know there is an issue with their work until you tell them. It is important to provide regular feedback from the outset, as part of the onboarding and training process, to ensure your employee has a clear idea of what is required. This can help them focus on doing their job more effectively, and work on their areas of weakness.

4. Consider reallocation

If it is clear that the employee cannot do the job as required, you may need to take tasks from them or even move them to a different team. Consider whether they have transferrable skills which can add greater value in another part of the business. Having invested in the employee - spending money on the recruitment and onboarding process. Finding them a different role within your organisation may work to everybody's benefit, saving time and additional expense.

5. Part ways

If training and reallocation have proven ineffective, and you still have an employee who costs more than they deliver, you may have to let them go. It will cost you money to re-recruit for the role, and leave you short-staffed in the interim, but in the longer term a bad employee may prove more harmful to the business. Making an employee redundant is never a comfortable process; it needs to be handled delicately and fairly, with all legal processes observed. You also need to provide support and advice for the individual concerned, to assist them finding a role which is more suited to them.

6. Learn from the mistake

When you come to re-hire for the position, it's important to think about how the hiring mistake of an underperforming employee occurred. Were you looking for the wrong attributes on applicant's CV's? Did you ask the wrong questions during the interview, or even conduct the wrong type of interview? And did you prioritise the wrong candidate qualities when making your final choice? Assessing the steps taken in the hiring process to bring the employee onboard can help ensure any mistakes are avoided second time around. If you didn't use a recruitment agency initially, then you may wish to consult their expertise the second time around.