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Addressing Worker Underperformance

By Sonya Buck, Australia


Any organisation’s bottom line can be affected by underperformance or decreased productivity.


Not only does an underperforming team member affect the business overall, they can also impact coworkers who may be forced to ‘pick up the slack’ and this can result in dedicated employees leaving and looking for new employment.


To address underperformance, we need to look at the cause and then some solutions. Here are just a few:


Lack of Motivation If the job isn’t a good fit – restructure roles or cross train employees. Make what employees do meaningful by offering extra training and attendance at relevant events. Also if their role is office based, ensure they get out and meet clients every now and then. Ensure you acknowledge achievements – small and large.


Have you communicated your expectations effectively? Make sure the employee knows what tasks they have been assigned and what they need to do. Make sure that deadlines are clear. If you have not been happy with the standard of their work in the past, ensure you let them know what exactly you are expecting to be completed.


The wrong training or no training. In this case, you’ll need to pull out the employee records to check the training they have received and if it is relevant to their current role. Has technology been upgraded, but no training provided? Get feedback from the employee, maybe they need retraining? Maybe the training just didn’t stick?


Low morale may be affecting your employees. There are so many reasons for low morale including employees feel there is lack of trust; the belief they have no ownership over their work; lack of training (see above) and high employee turnover which snowballs and can greatly impact your workers. Management must be aware of low morale and find out the cause and take action.


Distractions in the workplace. Are some of your employees not completing their work because they are distracted? Whether its workplace chatter, social media, noisy office machines, annoying mobile ring tones or loud ringing of landlines, it might be good to step in and stamp out these practices or make some technology adjustments.


In this article, we haven’t discussed the personal reasons an employee may be underperforming. This may be a good place to start if you can’t identify what the issue may be. Talking to an employee and identifying any issues is a must.


Of course, you will have regular performance reviews in place, but don’t feel you must wait until this meeting is scheduled to address underperformance.


Fair Work Australia have some great tips on addressing underperformance: