Managing Poor Performance at Work

  • Performance & Appraisals
Poor Performance
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Peninsula Group, HR and Health & Safety Experts

(Last updated )

How do you manage poor performance issues in your workplace? This expert guide explains how you should approach dealing with an underperforming employee.

Performance management is essential to ensure your employees are working to a high standard.

But the process isn’t easy and there’s rarely a quick answer if you find a staff member who is either struggling or lacking enthusiasm.

This guide explains the steps you can take to improve any productivity issues with your workforce.

Common poor performance scenarios

How can you tell if a staff member is underperforming? Well, there are common types of poor performance problems that you can keep an eye out for. These include:

  • Ongoing bad management skills.
  • Lateness.
  • Absenteeism.
  • Excessive time wasting (smartphone use, break time etc.)
  • Lowering standards of work quality.
  • Having preventable accidents.
  • Conflict with other employees.
  • Slow working speeds.

Managing poor performance

There are many ways you can deal with a staff member who isn’t delivering to their best standards.

Employee performance management can take many forms, whether it’s through a business mentor or line managers—the right approach depends on a variety of circumstances. It’s a complicated area for you to explore.

But you should ensure you have detailed capability and disciplinary procedures in place for approaching the task. Poor staff producvity and engagement in a role can have a significantly detrimental effect on workplace productivity.

It can even affect overall worker morale, if not appropriately responded to. As such, you should make managing underperformance a regular part of your business procedures.

Employee evaluations

One of the most important steps in your process is to identify the productivty gap.

You should take steps to gather clear evidence of your team member's underperformance through the holding of regular work reviews.

You can also provide a self-appraisal form for insights into their working mentality. Involving your staff in the performance appraisal process is one way of encouraging greater employee engagement, which can stamp out issues.

But a manager performance review is often one of the best approaches to take. This can be on an individual basis, or through team management. These can help to set targets for the worker to meet and assist in identifying specific examples where they’ve not done what their role demands.

By scheduling staff member reviews often, employers can keep themselves fully up to date on the progress and activities of specific workers and clearly identify areas that have caused concern over their abilities.

Executive coaching can help to justify a later decision to dismiss them on grounds of capability.

Before taking action

When it’s clear an employee’s performance is causing concern, you should take steps to determine what the problem is before taking any further action. A staff member may have poor productivty for a variety of reasons. As a result, it’s important to approach the issue carefully.

For example, they may have ongoing health issues, or a recent bereavement. So, keep such issues in mind as your employee may be struggling with these issues and require your support.

This means it’s important not to accuse them of deliberately underperforming in any communications you have with them. In these situations, you should consider providing further support to assist them in their roles, such as extra training or supervision.

The employee should receive reasonable time to demonstrate an improvement in their overall performance. If, at the end of that period, they’re continuing to show no signs of improvement, you should issue a capability warning.

If improvement still does not occur, the formal process may continue, ultimately resulting in dismissal on the grounds of capability.

Addressing employee issues

If it appears your staff member is wilfully approaching their role with a negative attitude, and the employer cannot ascertain any apparent reason for this, they can consider implementing a formal conduct procedure against them, rather than capability.

It’s important to identify the real reasons for the underperformance and this is why an investigation into the behaviour is a key element to the process.

Performance management tools

Your business can turn to technology to monitor trends and ensure that productivity remains at a high standard. Some of the techniques you can use are:

  • One-on-one check-ins: These involve talks with your staff to build employee engagement. They can boost morale and support your staff members in their respective roles.
  • Real-time feedback: You can use software to provide advice and support to your staff across their various devices, ensuring they can stay on target with their KPIs.
  • Personal Development Plans: PDPs are a way to provide members of your team with a sense of direction—a target to aim for to develop their careers.
  • Reward and recognition schemes: Providing something for your staff to work towards is a great incentive. If they have the opportunity for a bonus, pay raise, or various rewards then it can ensure they maintain their focus on doing a great job for you.

Need further help?

Need guidance with managing poor performance in the workplace? Our teams provide 24/7 HR advice which is available 365 days a year. We take care of everything when you work with our HR experts.

Want to find out more? Contact us on 0800 028 2420 and book a free consultation with an HR consultant today.

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