5 Ways to Manage Poor Performance in the Workplace

Whether you are running a new or existing business, managing poor employee performance is critical to your company’s overall success. Poor performance in the workplace contributes to reduced productivity, lower staff morale, high turnover, and compromised work quality. In this blog, we explore five strategies to manage poor performance to foster your organization’s growth.

What is Poor Performance in the Workplace? 

Poor performance refers to when employees fail to fulfill their job responsibilities or expectations. If employees do not hit specific milestones within a certain timeframe or achieve their goals, they are said to be underperforming.

The following are examples of poor performance in the workplace:

  • Failing to accomplish tasks
  • Poor attention to details
  • Missing deadlines or showing up late for meetings
  • Causing conflicts within the team
  • Failing to take feedback

How to Manage Poor Performance in Your Workplace

It is essential to promptly manage poor performance in your workplace to prevent situations from getting out of hand. However, ensure you consider what is best for your business and employees when addressing poor performance issues in your workplace. Here are tips on how to manage poor performance in the workplace effectively.

5 Ways to Manage Poor Performance in the Workplace

1. Identify Poor Performance

The first step to properly addressing poor performance in your organization is identifying the issue. Without clarity of the problem, you cannot develop an appropriate plan to resolve it. An effective way to determine specific performance problems is by comparing an employee’s past success and behaviors to current practices.

2. Establish the Cause of Poor Performance

Before addressing an issue, speak to the employee to establish the root cause. Poor performance can stem from anywhere, and understanding the cause can enable you to provide an informed and just solution.

Some root causes of low performance in the workplace include:

  • Issues in the employee’s personal life. This includes illnesses or sudden life changes like divorce, marriage, or childbirth.
  • Burnout
  • Lack of proper training
  • Workplace conflict, including harassment and discrimination
  • Lack of relevant tools and equipment
  • Lack of motivation

5 Ways to Manage Poor Performance in the Workplace

3. Provide Counseling

When you identify a performance concern and establish the root cause, consider scheduling a one-on-one to address the problem. The counseling session should entail speaking to the worker about your concerns, listening to their story, setting expectations, and developing a strategy to improve. You could also incorporate a performance improvement plan into your counseling sessions to enhance your employee’s capability to perform their duties efficiently.

4. Define Consequences

If you fail to observe significant employee performance improvement after several counseling sessions, you should form and communicate a clear disciplinary process. The corrective strategy should outline what an employee should expect if they do not adhere to procedures or when they showcase poor performance.

Typical consequences of poor performance in the workplace include:

  • Written warning to correct poor performance and behavior
  • Probation
  •  Demotion
  • Dismissal. If an employee’s performance does not improve even after issuing a written warning and demotion, or when the worker commits severe misconduct such as sexual harassment, fraud, or violence, you could consider terminating their employment contract.

5. Offer Incentives and Recognition

Be sure to acknowledge employee achievements and milestones privately and publicly. You could also set up a reward system to motivate employees. A reward strategy could include giving bonuses, promoting the employee, and time off.

Another effective way to motivate your employees is by recognizing their strengths. This ensures you only place them in positions where they can thrive or offer training to improve their weaknesses, enabling them to perform better.


Managing poor performance is vital to creating a healthy working culture and improving productivity and efficiency. The best way to manage poor performance is by setting clear expectations, providing feedback, and regularly training employees to avoid issues in the first place. However, if you identify a performance concern, implement the above strategies to resolve the issue.

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