Five top tips for dealing with underperforming employees

HR ADVICE: Most organisations do not fire less-skilled employees right away, but they bear the cost of productivity losses. In the same way as top performers are rewarded to stay in the company, poor performers may still be able to contribute and improve.

A team leader or manager can avoid the finaliity of letting an underperformer go by investing in coaching and grooming, especially if they have untapped potential. This ensures they get the most out of their staff, and avoid the costly exercise of replacing otherwise competent employees.

Check out these five top tips to help HR lead their underperformers back to productivity and success.

1. Model and invest

Walk the talk — that age-old advice is still the best way to encourage team members to excel. It’s easier to convince people with a pep talk to change and be better versions of themselves if their leaders and HR representatives take the lead.

Aside from paving the path for teammates, leaders must invest in them, knowing that they are the best assets to hit a common goal. People perform low often because they are not sufficiently motivated. So take them out of the workplace and give them time to refocus. Mental health, goal-building and achieving, and a positive outlook are topics that will allow them to get back the drive.

2. Follow through on coaching plans

Avoid a short-lived "training high" and follow up about their commitments and goals. After the training, regular meet-ups with the team to discuss their challenges, victories, and development will help sustain that positive start. This will help to highlight their committment to key goals and performance indicators for the good of the company in the long run.

3. Reward good deeds

People always want to know what benefit they could receive before deciding to jump into any endeavour, and HR leaders can apply this notion to achieve higher team participation rates. A simple recognition ceremony to credit an employee for doing a great job, with or without prize money or awards, can go a long way.

4. Identify weak spots with fairness

Aside from identifying the weak members of the team, do not forget to identify where their specific weaknesses lie. Renowned motivational speaker John Maxwell said that the team’s weakest member reflects the whole team’s strength. The leader therefore needs to discipline the constant low performers to avoid top performer attrition. Separate the good ones from the bad, pay attention to the latter, and know how to treat their weaknesses.

5. Count the capabilities

Make an inventory of the team’s capabilities while honestly evaluating every member. Review the job requirements for each of the members and compare them with their qualifications. This review assists in customising an effective executive coaching plan. Leaders can also consult a professional executive coach to help ensure an effective and equitable assessment.

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