As a leader, it’s natural to want to reward high-performing employees when they’re already doing so well and they’re likely to have the biggest impact on bottom line. However, attention and support should also be given to average or underperforming employees, which benefits not only the company but also the employees in their further careers.
Sometimes a little recognition and a listening ear is all an average or underperforming employee needs to perform at their best. Here, nine members of Council for Young Entrepreneurs discuss the things a leader can do to support and manage an average or underperforming employee and why these things are important.
1. Celebrate change with a rewards program
A business leader can motivate underperforming employees to step up their game by creating a rewards program that celebrates change. Improvement may be incremental, but it is a step in the right direction. Encouragement to do better takes the company to the next level as all employees move in a forward direction. † Evan Nierman† Red Banyan
2. Get their opinion on the situation
To support an underperforming employee, leaders can regularly gather feedback to see things from their point of view. It’s easier to tell how a problem is occurring simply by talking to the person directly and getting their opinion of the situation. The solution may ultimately be very simple. † Stephanie Wells† Formidable shapes
3. Work together to correct the underperformance
Working with an average or underperforming employee is almost inevitable. I’ve dealt with an employee whose potential I could see, but who didn’t apply themselves as well as I knew they could. Investing time and resources in an underperforming employee may seem like a gamble, but it can be hugely rewarding. However, it is challenging to support someone who thinks there is no problem. The first step is to recognize the problem and communicate with the employee to determine that this problem exists. Once you’ve identified this issue, you can work with actionable plans to correct the underperformance. Providing training, accountability partners, or mentoring programs to ensure the correction plan is implemented is an excellent consideration. † Chimezie Emewulu† Seamfix Limited
4. Identify and treat the cause, not the effect
A leader needs to consider at least two things: one is that each member of the team is unique and complex in their own way and therefore needs a tailored approach to perform at their best. The other is that we must learn to identify and treat causes rather than effects. There are many reasons, both internal and external, for a person to perform poorly, and it is up to the leader to find the cause. Whatever the reason for underperformance, the solution must come from a positive angle, with deep empathy and genuine concern for the well-being and development of the employee. Negative stimuli rarely produce sustainable long-term results. † Bogdan Gecic† Gecian law
5. Give them more consistent feedback
Average and underperforming employees need more consistent feedback. One of the worst things a manager can do is blind them during a review. Instead, they should provide consistent communication about areas that need work. Innovation from the leader is also needed; an average or underperforming employee may need more creativity and motivation to reach their milestones. † Leila Lewis† Get inspired PR
6. Challenge them with specific milestones
One way to support and manage a low-performing employee is to challenge them with milestones they need to meet. Next, it’s important to hold them accountable for completing these milestones. Talking to them about how things are going as each deadline approaches is a great way to keep the project in their minds so they remember that you’re counting on them to complete it. Having a project management system in place to set milestones and hold team members accountable is worth the time investment. By doing this, they are reminded of how important they are in the bigger picture and hopefully encouraged to complete milestones without having to check in often. † John Rampton† Calendar
7. Create a career path
Employers must work with all their employees to create a career path. Often a lack of direction or purpose leads to average or underperforming employees. A career path gives each employee a goal-oriented approach and shows how they can grow throughout the company. A career path is essential for two reasons: it puts the employee in charge of their career and it provides metrics to measure employee performance. Another thing that career paths can show is whether or not it’s time to let an employee go. Sometimes it just doesn’t suit your company or the employee. † Jared Weitz† United Capital Source Inc.
8. Set clear, measurable goals
If you’re dealing with an average or low achiever, don’t go out of your office and start yelling. Instead, get as clear a picture as possible of where to put them together. If the low or medium achiever is in sales, show them the numbers you’d like to see and figure out a way to get there. Don’t be afraid to invite them to share their own thoughts on what’s holding them back. This conversation can get personal, so be prepared for honesty and a deep dive. All performance metrics aside, we’re all people who typically give our best, so give your employee the benefit of the doubt when starting the conversation about improving performance. † Tyler Bray† TK Trailer Parts
9. Offer opportunities for further development
Providing opportunities for further development and training is not only a great way to attract new employees, but it can also help retain your existing employees and increase their capabilities. Make an effort to provide your employees with as many learning opportunities as possible. This can be as simple as paying for their LinkedIn Learning courses or as complicated as sending it to specialized seminars or intensive courses. Ultimately, the workers will benefit and you will be rewarded with a more skilled workforce. † Salvador Ordorica† The Spanish Group LLC