The HR Advisor

5 Steps Towards Preventing Employee Underperformance

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Managing employee performance can be complicated. Every situation is unique, and despite feedback, informal counselling, additional support and training, an employee’s performance or behaviour may remain at a standard that is unsatisfactory.

While it is unlikely your business will be able to completely remove the need to manage employee performance and behaviour, there are tried and true steps you can take to improve productivity and reduce instances of underperformance. 

Begin by asking yourself these key questions and then take the suggested and necessary action to create a best-practice framework.

1. Do your employees have the required tools and resources to do their job to the best of their ability?

Before launching into a performance management process, consider whether there is anything that as a business or manager you have done/not done which may have caused the under-performance. If the employee lacks the time, technology, equipment or support that they need to do their job well, they are not going to be able to complete their tasks – no matter how much they want to. High performing employees need high-performing tools and resources, so make this a priority in your business.

2. Was your recruitment process rigorous?

Poor selection is a common reason for employee underperformance. If you are experiencing a significant level of turnover due to poor performance, undertake a review of your recruitment process and ensure that you have rigorous, relevant selection criteria for the roles.  It is important that your recruitment process combines traditional assessments such as face-to-face interviews and assessment centres as well as validation tools including practical assessments and psychometric testing. A rigorous recruitment process will increase the likelihood of a good employee-to-role match and therefore less likelihood of employee underperformance.


3. Are your Managers effective? 

There is a definite correlation between the effectiveness of your leaders and your employees level of performance. Leaders who are able to inspire energy and enthusiasm, communicate well and set stretch targets will be more likely to have a motivated team.  Motivated employees are much more likely to perform well and enjoy their jobs. Investing in management training will ensure that you are consistently closing any capability gaps and focusing on developing critical leadership skills that will have a lasting impact on your team and your business's performance.

4. Has the employee undergone a carefully planned induction and probation process?

A good induction program will help to integrate the new employee into the organisation and encourage them to settle more quickly into their role, resulting in more effective performance at an earlier stage. Regular review meetings should be held with your new employee over this period discussing performance goals and expectations and assessing your new employee’s ‘fit’, both with the business and with the role. It is important that your employee feels supported and that the lines of communication are open through the induction and probation process to nip any issues in the bud and increase the chances of long-term success.

5. Is your workforce engaged and motivated?

Engaged employees have higher levels of motivation, and motivated employees are less likely to underperform. To create an engaged workforce, focus on setting a culture of alignment around the vision and values and align rewards with these. Make sure your Managers have the tools and capability to create engagement in their teams and measure engagement levels regularly.

There is no disputing that employee turnover is costly and time-consuming.  However, it is possible to reduce the likelihood of turnover becoming a problem for your business. Creating a culture of transparency and feedback, giving recognition for great work, empowering people with the best tools and technology and ensuring that you are hiring the very best people will all go a long way to preventing underperformance and buy you back precious time and productivity to ensure the continued success of your business.


Managing Employee Performance & Behaviour - eBook

Topics: HR Tips HR Advice