Any business is only as good as the people it employs, and regardless of a company’s size, even one low-performing employee can drag down an organization’s success. This is what makes rigorous recruiting and hiring policies so important, but even with diligent staff selection, every business needs a back-up plan to handle problem employees.

While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for low employee performance, here are some tips for dealing with staff whose work isn’t quite up to snuff:

1. Prevent problems before they start. The key to getting employees to meet your expectations is to set those expectations with them up front. Setting clear performance goals and providing precise job descriptions helps employees know what they need to do to perform well. Without this information, a hardworking over-achiever might head down the wrong road in their work without even realizing it. 

2. Provide regular feedback. Discussing performance issues with employees shouldn’t be restricted to formal reviews (though regular performance reviews are important). Good managers should be ready to make small corrections any time an employee slips up. This can be done in passing with simple resolution for minor infractions or with a formal meeting for more serious issues. Addressing the issue when it starts is the most sure-fire way to prevent it from recurring.

3. Diagnose the problem. When problems do resurface, and an employee consistently underperforms, it’s important to identify the root cause of the problem before taking any action. Typically, problems fall into two categories: a lack of ability or a lack of motivation. Determining the areas in which the problem employee is deficient will help inform a proper response.

4. Create a performance improvement plan. Once the cause of the low-performance is identified, managers can lay out a path for the employee to improve. If the problem is ability-related, the employee might benefit from additional training or from a slight tweak in their job responsibilities. Employees who lack motivation may respond better to having additional support or receiving more positive feedback about their work.

5. Document everything. Managers should document any performance-related discussions with employees that extend beyond a casual verbal correction. Keeping a record of an employee’s performance allows managers to track improvement or to determine what additional steps need to be taken for the employee to reach his or her goals. Documenting performance reviews and formal reprimands also gives managers a clear record to show what they have done to help improve an employee’s performance.

Following these tips can help managers better address performance issues in ways that benefit both the employee and the company at large. Remember that most performance issues can be resolved without drastic disciplinary action or dismissal, and LBMC Employment Partners is comprised of Human Resources professionals with the experience to help you find solutions to these issues. If you’re ready to learn more about what we can do to assist your business, contact us today.