How To Manage Underperforming Team Members

Not everyone can perform to 100% all of the time. That’s okay because we’re only human! However, if it becomes consistent it will start to cause problems. Not only with the work being produced, but it can also affect team morale and lose your business money.

At Outlook Partnerships, our mission is to empower individuals to deliver incredible business results. Our job is to make yours easier, even if it’s overcoming complex managerial issues like managing underperforming teams.

Keep reading for our top tips on managing underperforming team members.

Identify the problem – don’t just jump to conclusions

Don’t just assume that someone is being lazy or doesn’t want to work. There could be many contributing factors to this. They might be having problems with their home life, or even with another team member. Setting up a 1-2-1 is a great idea as this can give you time alone to discuss any worries you both have and will make it easier to handle any difficult conversations that may arise.

Question your own work

If you have more than one underperforming employee, you shouldn’t only question them, but also yourself. Your team should know what is expected of them, if they’re not living up to expectations then you should also review your own clarity.

You can do this by asking yourself:

  • Have all employees had a clear brief and know what you expect?

  • Do they understand consequences of not performing?

  • Are they up to date on training?


Downfalls can occur when an employee hasn’t had the appropriate training. There should be an appropriate verbal and written brief, or step by step guide they can refer back to. Make sure your instructions are clear. Ask current employees if there is an area of training they would like to improve on. This will ensure that your employees have the skills and knowledge needed to benefit your company.

Set measurable goals

Be specific when highlighting underperformance. You need to show exactly where the problem falls. Use figures, targets or your company handbook to show employees how they are not complying with what is expected.

It’s equally as important that you give the team member a goal to strive to. Creating measurable performance objectives can help guide a team member and will give you something to measure their performance against moving forwards. Be sure to set meetings to check back in regularly with the team member to see how they are getting on.

Incentive and motivation

It’s always important to keep your team motivated. If appreciation is not shown, employees can lack enthusiasm. It doesn’t have to be costly, a simple “thank you” or “good job” can go a long way.

To incentivise people to achieve their goals you could try running an internal competition, for example the employee who receives the best customer feedback, standard or works collaboratively with the team to hit targets or sales, you could try running an internal competition. A little competition in the workplace can be very healthy!

Do you need more assistance with managing underperformance?

If you feel you need to focus in more depth on how to manage underperforming team members, our Learning Workshop ‘Managing Performance & Handling Difficult Conversations’ has been created to offer you further guidance.

Does this sound like something you could benefit from? If so then book onto our workshop. Priced at £225* per person, this 1-day training course can be delivered by one of our expert trainers, in a venue of your choice, for up to 12 delegates. Let us bring learning to the heart of your business, book your place here.

*Learning workshops are priced at £225 per person, per day excluding workshops with profiles which are priced at £295 per person, per day. These prices are based on a booking of a minimum of 8 delegates per learning workshop and exclude Learning Consultancy travelling expenses and VAT.

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