tired employee sleeping at work

Organizations depend on employees to be successful, and employees’ productivity depends on how the organization treats them… There can be other reasons for this but it’s no good news when employees underperform.

Therefore, as soon as noticed, improving employee performance should be a priority for every company. You can’t afford to risk turnover and decreased profit. Low employee morale is the silent killer of performance and productivity, so you need to correct it as soon as you detect it.

Why do employees underperform anyway?


Well, this won’t be good news if you’re a manager… because it’s probably your fault.

They are unmotivated because they feel ignored by the leadership

Becoming dissatisfied with and disengaged from the work experience is only a matter of time when employees feel left out. To prevent this from happening, HR leaders must often check up on employees and find ways to motivate them to produce their best work into every task.

They have too much on their plate

Employee productivity takes a hit when employees are overwhelmed by their workload. They’re being given too much work in too tight deadlines. On these cases, they will either end up submitting sloppy work or work late hours stressing themselves out into meeting a deadline, but ruining their social life instead which will eventually make them detest work for taking so much of their time. And neither of those is in anyone’s interest.

They have inadequate capabilities

Some employees might be incompetent for the position they’re in. Inadequate skills or lack of experience can interfere with their ability to perform their job successfully.

Their previous work has gone by unrecognized

So why give big effort into something if you won’t be appreciated for it?

They don’t even realize they aren’t performing well enough

Because they don’t have measurable performance goals. And it’s not like you have spent time on giving feedback. Moreover, if they’re not working well on a task that is new to them, managers should provide complete direction including what, how, and when to do it.

They stopped caring

They were totally different in the first months of work, shooting ideas and giving their best. But after one too many ideas that were not respected, they’ll stop sharing. And this lack of respect can come in many forms, including criticism, inattention, and lack of adoption.

How to improve staff performance and productivity

Here are 8 strategies to improve team performance before it’s too late.

Source: Icons8

1. Understand the reasons behind poor performance

You can’t fix it without knowing what to fix. Finding out what drives poor performance is the first step toward improving employee performance.

If you haven’t made it a habit to ask for their feedback yet (which is why they’re underperforming in the first place), then it’s better late than never. Initiate genuinely open conversations with your employees. Ask them what used to motivate them at work and doesn’t anymore, whether they have something going on at home that’s hindering their performance, or whether they have any criticism with how the management team is operating towards them.

However, employees won’t always have the answers. Sometimes employees agree that they have everything they need to perform well, and they are actually working as hard and smart as they can. This might not resonate with what the company requires from them, so in these cases, the managers need to realize that the employee is not underperforming, they’re simply performing at the best of their abilities.

2. Take responsibility upon your own performance as a leader

Don’t just listen to their critiques. Accept the blame and take responsibility as a leader would. If more than one of your employees genuinely believe that something about your performance as a leader is hindering their ability to perform well at work, you need to take matters at hand and ask for direct feedback on what you can do to improve. Or perhaps the problem is that they can’t concentrate on work with the background music you decided to put on. Solutions can be found once you know what’s wrong.

3. Communicate clear expectations.

Making sure employees are clear about their work assignments means communicating those expectations well. Continue to manage what is expected through frequent communications.

If employees can explain objectives in their own words, it is a good chance that they know what to do and how to get it done.

4. Make sure performance appraisals are consistent

Regular and timely appraisals ensure employees know where they stand at all times. Conducting performance appraisals regularly also keeps goals at the forefront of daily tasks.

Workplace rewards can sometimes present a tricky problem: you want to let an employee know that you recognize and appreciate their improvement without seeming like you’re patronizing them. Sometimes, leaders think that gifts are the best ways to show appreciation, but often verbal praise, bonuses, or even the promise of career advancement (should the good work continue) are more effective in motivating teammates.

5. Invest in employee development

“Where do you see yourself in five years?” This is a common interview question. Now that five years have passed, have your employee’s career goals been achieved? Or, are they still striving to reach their full potential within the organization?

If they are, maybe this is a good time to readdress those goals and plan accordingly. Work to close any skills gaps that will not only help them achieve long-term goals but will also benefit your company when their skills help you fulfill business objectives.

6. Take steps toward improving morale before it spreads

Employees perform better when they are satisfied with their job. Review things such as work environment, benefits, salary, employee understanding of the mission and vision. Employees who understand how their exact role helps the company succeed are often more willing to do their best.

7. Empower employees to do their jobs well

Empowering employees can take on many forms as they gain the authority to make decisions that have a huge impact on their success.

Whether it is giving them input on goals and objectives, or allowing them to access their data without going to HR, minor roadblocks will not impede their progress. They have the resources they need, yet know they are held accountable without being micromanaged.

8. It might be best to part ways

If you’ve spent a considerable time (a few weeks or months) working with an employee to improve some of their negative habits or attitudes and they’re not showing any progress, it may be time to take the difficult step you’ve been hoping not to come to. Letting them go…

In some circumstances, when nothing you do seems to help with their performance, it might mean that your company and the employee are simply not compatible. Good managers realize when they’ve done enough to improve their own performance and done what they could to improve their employees’, and know when it’s time to cut ties for the benefit of everyone.

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