How to Talk to an Employee About Their Poor Performance

performance reviews

Running a company and managing a team would be easy if all employees were passionate about what they were doing every day and strove to keep improving.

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. That’s because fewer than one out of every three employees are engaged at work, according to Gallup. This is a serious problem as disengaged employees are more likely to be unhappy and have a harder time being productive — both of which contribute to poor performance.

Not only is poor performance bad for individual productivity, it can also bring down the rest of the team that works hard every day. Assuming you don’t want an employee’s poor performance to persist, you need to intervene. But discussing a team member’s unacceptable behavior isn’t exactly the easiest thing to do. Having such a conversation isn’t the highlight of any manager’s job.

Do you need to address an employee’s poor performance? If so, consider these tips:

The Truth Behind Performance Reviews by TINYpulse


01. Document specific incidents of an employee’s poor performance

It’s not enough to simply tell your employee that they need to improve. You need be ready to provide examples of specific incidents where your worker dropped the ball. When you notice a worker’s performance taking a turn for the worse, start documenting their shortcomings. Be ready to compare them to the staffer’s previous successes.


02. Put yourself in the right frame of mind

Remember that you’re talking to your employee about their poor performance. You’re not going to fire that person, and you want them to still contribute to your company. Don’t go into a meeting with a confrontational tone. Don’t be angry either. Try to be calm, cool, and collected and let your employee know what they’re doing wrong.


03. Know the person you’re talking to

Each of your employees has a unique personality. While some workers might have no problem getting reprimanded for a decline in their performance, others might take the news personally. Before sitting down with your employee, make sure you understand who you’re talking to.


04. Speak with your worker privately

Whatever you do, don’t hold a discussion about poor performance in a public setting.


05. Be timely


If your employee’s performance is slipping, don’t wait until three months from today to have a conversation. Take action right away so that your employee can return to form sooner.


06. Listen to what your employee has to say

There may be a very valid reason as to why an employee’s productivity and the quality of their work has taken a hit in recent weeks. Imagine, for example, they’re very close with their father who’s been gravely ill in the hospital for the last month. There may be perfectly understandable reasons for a temporary dip in productivity.


07. Be clear with what your expectations are

As the conversation winds down, be very clear about what your expectations are. The last thing you want is to sit down for a long chat only to have your employee leave the room without the two of you being on the same page.

You may not be excited to address poor performance, but if you want to take your business to the next level, you can’t accept mediocrity. By keeping the above tips in mind, you increase the chances your conversation will be productive. If all goes as planned, your employee may very well improve right away.  



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Justin Reynolds

Justin Reynolds

December 09, 2016



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