Skip to main content

How to Manage Poor Performance

By July 24, 2015February 12th, 2019HR Solutions
How to Manage Poor Performance | HR Solutions

The aim of performance management is to continually improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your organisation.


Setting structured individual goals for your employees helps to direct their development, and also allows you to empirically measure their progress, which is great as long as your workforce continues to develop. But what can you do when an employee is not performing to the expected level?

When an employee is performing poorly it may be because:

  • They are in the wrong job
  • They are experiencing problems outside of work
  • They need more information or understanding about their role

If you have an employee who is not performing as expected it might be tempting to launch straight into disciplinary proceedings. However, you need to give them a chance and explain your position first. After all, how can you expect their performance to improve if they are not aware that there is an issue to begin with?

Your first step needs to be an informal discussion with the employee so you can establish the reasons for their drop in performance and let them know that it’s a concern. Take the opportunity to find out whether:

  • They are facing any particular issues or challenges, work-related or otherwise
  • If there’s any way their role can be modified to improve performance

You are not obliged to make any changes to their job role (unless you are asking them to do something illegal, of course), but an honest discussion could highlight any mismatched expectations.

What do you need to keep in mind when you have a poorly-performing employee?
  • Don’t ignore any warning signs during the probationary period. If the employee is a bad fit they will only get harder to deal with down the line.
  • Don’t confuse a performance issue with a conduct problem.
  • Don’t wait until their next review. Raise a performance issue as soon as it becomes apparent.
  • Do identify the ways in which the employee is under performing. Obtain evidence.
  • Do develop a performance improvement plan with the employee and get them to agree to it. Be clear about the time scale for improvement.
  • Do keep an open mind about the reasons for the employee’s poor performance – it might not be a capability issue.

Hopefully a proactive approach will be enough to turn the employee’s performance around; however, this isn’t always the case. If you do need to start a formal disciplinary process all of the notes and documentation you have made will become indispensable.

HR Solutions can help you with every stage of the performance management process. Call us on 0844 324 5840 or contact us online to find out more.

Interested in what we do?

Get the latest news from HR Solutions delivered to your inbox