Coaching Up Underperforming Employees

Every employer should know the 10 steps for improving employee performance.


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    Coaching Up Underperforming Employees

    Coaching Up Underperforming Employees

    Like many businesses, your staff may be your most important asset, so when an employee performs below expectations, it hurts the profitability of your business. Here are 10 steps to turn around an underperforming worker.

    Ten Steps for Improving Employee Performance

    1. Don’t Ignore the Problem. Hoping that an employee’s performance will improve without intervention, or hoping the employee will leave of his or her own accord, is not a strategy. Ignoring the issue is only likely to make a bad situation worse.
    2. Evaluate Whether the Employee is Coachable and Worth the Effort. Before you put in the time and energy to coach someone, you’ll want to determine if you think the employee is open to listening and improving. If he or she isn’t, then cut your losses and start the termination process.
    3. Have an Open, Honest and Two-Way Conversation. As the boss, you need to explain your view of the situation, and how it’s affecting other staff members and the business. Ask your employee to confirm he or she understands your position. This conversation should go both ways, so provide your employee with the opportunity to voice his or her perspective.
    4. Keep It Confidential. Any discussions or future courses of action should be kept in the strictest confidence. They should only be shared with other staff members if they are directly relevant (e.g., office manager).
    5. Be Professional. Stick with the facts. Avoid getting personal or exhibiting emotions, such as anger or frustration. You’re here to turn around a situation, not make it worse.
    6. Make a Plan. Sit down with your employee and create a plan that includes performance goals, action steps and hard target dates for reaching performance objectives.
    7. Make Your Employee a Plan Co-Author. Allow your employee to voice ideas for resolving the underperformance issue. Not only may he or she offer good suggestions (e.g., additional training), but the input can help increase your employee’s commitment to change.
    8. Regularly Monitor Progress. Periodic reviews are essential to pushing positive change forward. The frequency will depend upon the issues involved, the attitude and personality of your employee, and how much time you are able to devote.
    9. Offer Positive and Helpful Feedback. Positive and constructive feedback will fuel motivation and help your employee to grow and improve performance.
    10. Be Prepared for Failure. If your best efforts fail to improve an employee’s performance, it may simply be the case of an unmotivated worker or a bad fit. In such instances, the best thing for your business, your clients and the underperforming employee may be to terminate his or her employment.

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