Top Menu


How to Motivate Under Performers

Even the greatest company can fail if its employees are under performing. Morale, confidence, skill level and more can all have a drastic effect on an employee’s performance. Underperforming does not necessarily mean that the employee is poor at their job. It can have just as much to do with management and the company as a whole as it can with the individual. In order to help motivate under performers excel at their job, follow these steps.

Understand why they’re underperforming

The best way to tackle any problem is by understanding the cause of it. Every employee is different, and each has their own problems with varying impacts. Get an unbiased overview of the person’s behavior and work from someone like a manager or fellow co worker. In addition to obtaining some useful and unbiased information on the employee, you may also get some insight as to why they may be underperforming. For instance, a coworker could mention that the employee has been very distracted lately due to issues at home, or they’re having difficulties understanding a new software.

HR software can also be perfect to understanding just how the employee is truly performing. It allows you to see a breakdown of their performance through analytics involving their met goals, current projects and more.

Open lines of communication and provide encouragement

Once you’ve gathered some information, it’s time to sit down and have a conversation with the employee about their performance. Start off by letting them understand how valuable they are to the company and what they’ve achieved there so far. Many employees simply don’t feel like they’re appreciated, and even merely hearing these words from their boss can have a very positive effect on their work. If anything, it will likely provide them with some drive to try to improve.

Explain all of the details that you’ve collected on their performance, and offer a helping hand in rectifying the situation. If you haven’t collected enough information to pinpoint why they’re underperforming, discuss why both you and they believe this may be happening. There could be more than one reason. For instance, if you believe they’re frustrated over not understanding a new software, offer some helpful resources for learning about it, or suggest they work alongside someone else who knows the software very well for a while. They may then suggest that the reason they’ve been getting frustrated with the software is due to hardware issues in their work laptop. This could be fixed with repairs or a new computer.

Set clear goals and provide coaching

Some employees aren’t aware that their performance is lacking, and some employers and managers simply don’t provide clear goals for their employees. Lay down some clear performance goals for the employee, and offer some coaching to help them improve. Be wary of employees who refuse coaching or any sort of help. If they don’t want to equip themselves with the proper tools and resources to improve, they may not be worth keeping around.

Follow up

Just like how employees may under perform when they believe their work isn’t being appreciated, employees who are working to improve also benefit from fairly regular follow ups as well as praise and acknowledgment when they are visibly improving.

Reward improvement, analyze further performance issues

At the end of a reasonable time period of coaching and work, analyze how the employee has done overall. If they have made great strides in improvement, reward them in some way. Show them that their work has paid off, and assure them that hard work and great performance are recognized, even when mistakes are made along the way. If the employee hasn’t improved much or has stayed the same in their performance, you’ll need to evaluate whether they’re worth keeping around. Are the improvement methods ineffective, or is the employee simply not putting much effort into it? Is it worth it to try to continue with other improvement methods, or is it best to let the person go and try to find someone else for the job? Put deep consideration into this as firing someone can have a very large effect on everyone in the company.

Most people have it in them to be good employees. It just takes a little hard work, patience and understanding to help under performers achieve great things in your company. There will be instances where you may be forced to let someone go, but these tips will prevent you from losing a valuable employee and doing undue damage to the company or even someone’s life.

Small Business Can Newsletter
Small Business Can is run by businesspeople for businesspeople. We share our experiences, successes and failures. Sign up for our insightful (and sometimes funny) newsletter and stay up to speed with all the latest insights.

, ,

One Response to How to Motivate Under Performers

  1. Bart Fantastic October 15, 2015 at 1:25 pm #

    In my humble opinion under performance happens if: one is exhausted in a physical way or in a mental way, which happens because of lack of motivation, which happens because of lack of appreciation or at least that’s my case. I do a lot of flat pack furniture assembly on a daily basis and I often work with another colleague, which is another important factor in performance. I personally love to be a part of a team, compared to being alone. I think that’s valid for pretty much everything in life.

Leave a Reply