How to Handle Poor Performance at the Workplace

In any team, there are likely to be people who perform below expectation. Since such poor performance ends up affecting the whole organization, it needs to be dealt with immediately. However, before dealing with this problem, you need to understand the root cause. Is the poor performance due to low motivation or lack of ability? Diagnosing the problem correctly will save you from many problems later on.

How to enhance ability

The following are some strategies that can help you deal with poor performance due to lack of ability:

1. Retrain

Do your employees have the skills required to carry out their tasks? With the rapid change in technology, many skills become outdated very fast. Therefore, to keep your team members’ skills current, it is important to retrain them. Retraining can be offered in form of:

  • Subsidized university courses
  • Computer based training
  • Simulation exercises
  • Training seminars

2. Resupply

Find out if your team members have the resources they require for their work. This could be equipment, materials or support. For instance, their poor performance might be caused by a poor internet connection or lack of proper feedback. Take time to listen to their grievances and take the necessary measures. Your team members will appreciate your efforts and are likely to perform better.

3. Redesign

When retraining or resupplying is not enough, you could consider redesigning the job for the individual. Evaluate the different aspects of the job and think of how it can be redesigned. For this to be effective, it would be advisable to first carry out a SWOT analysis of the person. This will enable you to redesign the job in a way that maximizes on their strengths.

4. Reassign

Reassigning is another effective way of dealing with poor performance. For instance, if a person lacks interpersonal skills, you could consider moving them to a position which involves less interaction with people. However, make sure the new position is still demanding and exciting. If the reassigned individual feels like they have been demoted, they will lack motivation.

5. Release

At times, in spite of your efforts to retrain, resupply, redesign and reassign, a poor performer might fail to improve. In such a case, the only option left would be to let them go. Retaining such an employee could have the following consequences:

  • You will continue wasting valuable resources and time
  • You might appear to be favoring the poor performer
  • Other team members might get the impression that mediocrity is tolerated  

Improving motivation

If the cause of poor performance is lack of enthusiasm, here are some ideas for enhancing motivation:

1. Set performance goals

At times, people lack motivation because they don’t know what is expected of them. It is therefore very important to set clear goals for all your team members. Make sure the goals are specific, measurable, realistic and time-bound.

2. Offer performance assistance

After setting goals, you need to help your people perform well by:

  • Offering the regular training
  • Providing necessary resources
  • Creating an environment for teamwork

3. Provide feedback

Proper and regular feedback is important for good performance. Make sure the feedback is given in a timely and open manner. Remember to include recognition and rewards as part of the feedback. This will motivate your team members to work harder.

When it comes to poor performance at the workplace, low motivation and lack of ability are closely related. Applying the strategies discussed here will yield immense benefits for your team and organization.


Image: Flickr, Texas A&M University