6 tips to manage the poor work performance of employees

how to manage poor work performance

Anybody who has ever worked in an office can likely attest that some co-workers or employees just seem to drag down the energy of the entire room. Unfortunately, the causes can be multiple. What is certain is that whether it’s their attitude, poor work ethic, or inability to communicate effectively, these workers can often make life difficult for everybody else. So if you struggle with a poor work performance from a colleague or a subordinate, here are a few methods for managing them.

Take a step back

Sometimes, the best solution to deal with poor work performance may be simply taking a step back. For example, if someone is constantly causing problems at work, it may be best to limit your interaction with them. This doesn’t mean you should avoid them entirely. However, you may want to limit your interactions to only what is necessary.

You can also take a different approach when dealing with the individual. For example, if they are always causing problems in meetings, try sending them an email instead. This can help limit the amount of time you need to spend with them and allow you to control the situation better.

Of course, this tip applies only if the under-performing employee is someone who is not hierarchically attached to you. If not, you have other means of action, which we will now discuss.

Understand the reason for poor work performance

As a manager, seeing a co-worker or employee not meeting their potential can be frustrating. Poor performance can come from various causes, such as personal problems or a lack of understanding of the job.

Before taking action, it’s essential to understand the reasons for the poor work performance. Then, depending on the cause, the solutions are different. For example, additional training may be necessary if the problem is a lack of understanding. If personal issues interfere with work, a private conversation may be needed to discuss the situation and find a way to help the individual resolve their issues. Suppose the problem is simply that the individual is not motivated. In that case, you may need to have a conversation about their goals and how their current performance is impacting those goals.

In any case, taking action early is vital to avoid further problems down the road. However, you should also remain respectful and professional when addressing the issue. By taking a constructive approach, you can help improve the situation and ensure everyone can meet their potential.

Document the issue

Suppose you have unsuccessfully tried to address the problem on your own. In that case, it may be necessary to involve your boss or HR. Before taking this step, it’s essential to document the issue. This can help to show that you have made a genuine effort to resolve the problem and that further action is necessary.

To document the issue, record instances where the co-worker or employee has caused problems. This can include missed deadlines, poor work quality, late arrivals at work, or disruptive behavior. If possible, try to get witnesses or other people who can corroborate your story. This can help to show that the issue is not isolated and that there is a pattern of poor performance.

Once you have collected this information, you can present it to your boss or HR. They will likely be able to take further action to resolve the problem.

Address the issue with the employee

Work conflict illustration

When it comes to addressing the issue of poor work performance with an employee, it’s essential to keep in mind a few key points. First, you should always be respectful and professional. This is not a personal attack but a discussion about their work performance.

Second, you should try to be clear and concise about the problem. Be specific about the issues and how they impact the workplace.

Third, it’s important to offer solutions. Suppose there are ways that the employee can improve their performance, be sure to suggest them. You should also let the employee know the consequences if their performance does not improve.

By following these tips, you can help to manage a poorly performing employee professionally and constructively.

Follow up with the employee

After you have addressed the issue with the employee, it’s essential to follow up. This can help to ensure that the problem is resolved and that there is no further disruption.

You should check in with the employee periodically to see how they are doing. You can also ask for feedback on how you can help to resolve the issue.

If the problem persists, you may need to take further action. This could involve involving your boss or HR. In some cases, it may be necessary to let the employee go.

It’s also important to be supportive and understanding during this follow-up. Ensure the employee understands that you want him to succeed, and offer help and guidance if necessary.

Take disciplinary action if necessary

Suppose the problem is not resolved after you have addressed it with the employee. In that case, you may need to take disciplinary action. This can include things like write-ups, warnings, or even termination.

However, before taking this step, consulting with HR is essential. They will be able to help you determine the appropriate course of action.

In some cases, disciplinary action may be necessary to resolve the issue. However, taking this step only as a last resort is essential. By taking this approach, you can help improve the situation and ensure everyone can meet their potential.


Although it can be difficult, managing poor work performance is an important part of being a manager. By following these six steps, you can help improve the situation and ensure that your employees are productive and contributing to the company’s success. If you need more help or advice when it comes to employee management, be sure to check out our blog for tips and resources. And don’t forget to subscribe so you never miss an update!