Nine Ways Managers can Motivate Underperforming Employees

Why do employees underperform?
  1. Lack of skills: It is more common than accepted that many employees think they are not fit for the job, especially when having the skills needed to get the task done. Some may be capable enough, but they don’t know how to put their skills into practicality.
  2. Unclear expectations: Quite often, employees feel the burden of meeting up to the expectations of their boss/team leader. They may be motivated for the job but may be unsure of what exact outcome is required of them. Managers need to be transparent about their expectations from their team.
  3. Job dissatisfaction: Sometimes, the job role may not turn out to be the way it was portrayed. Employees then have every right to be dissatisfied and not take the initiative towards completing tasks.
  4. Stressful work environment: People cannot operate to the best of their capabilities amid high-tension work. Added stress can significantly impact the performance of employees.
  5. Inadequate training and development opportunities: Companies should provide training and development opportunities to better employees’ performance. Without added options, they can feel restrictive at their work and demotivated to perform in a better way.
  6. Cultural differences: Each individual has different working styles and work values. If they are challenged at work, employees may not relate to the working culture at the company.
  7. Personal issues: Maintaining a good work-life balance is a must, but sometimes personal problems affect the overall working of a human being. Without proper counseling and guidance, employees may lose track of their responsibilities in life, especially at their workplace.

How can managers motivate underperforming employees?

A hidden task that a manager is supposed to deal with is motivating underperforming employees. Here are 12 proven methods to effectively deal with employees that lack motivation and working below expectations:

1. Address the Issue Head-on

2. Recognise and Meet Employee Expectations

Another powerful reason why employees underperform is when their expectations aren’t met. Of course, they will have certain expectations related to pay, career advancement, time flexibility, job security, and others. When they don’t see their plan play out, they will lack the motivation to put in extra effort to achieve them.

3. Develop an Action Plan Together

Once you understand the reasons and issues with the employee underperforming, you can together formulate an action plan that works for both parties. You can set specific benchmarks that, once the employee meets, can make them eligible to ask for something in return.

  • Outline the actions each party is responsible for
  • Timeframe to meet the performance expectation, and the consequences of not meeting them
  • Resources and support the party can avail

4. Schedule Regular Check-ins and Follow Up

A single meeting with the underperforming employee will not solve the problem entirely. You must give time to the employee to improve and make the proposed changes. Therefore, it is better to schedule meetups with them and provide guidance and support wherever needed.

5. Recognise and Appreciate the Progress

When someone doesn’t work to the fullest of their capabilities, they require someone to push them on the journey. If you constantly bug your employee to improve without appreciating them, then you will be causing more harm to their morale than before. So instead, as their guide, appreciate and celebrate the little wins when you see progress.

6. Provide Appropriate Feedback
  • Emphasise one or two issues at once, or else you will end up overwhelming the employee
  • Be honest with your critique but be positive too
  • Bring it to their notice how their progress is positively impacting the team’s overall performance
  • Commend them for their achievements to boost their self-esteem

7. Document the Steps Taken Throughout the Process

It is essential to document every decision you take concerning an employee in the workplace. In addition, these records come in handy when the issue is not resolved and the employee challenges the process. Notice and record every conversation that happens between you and the concerned employee.

8. Take the final call when the employee doesn’t improve

Any employee who slacks off at work will significantly impact the team morale and the work environment. If you encourage such behavior at work, the other team members will become resentful, overburdened, and discouraged. Therefore, it is necessary to get work back on track in every possible manner.

9. Encourage a Healthy oWrk-Life Balance

The longest-lasting method you can use to motivate the underperforming employee is encouraging them to balance their work-life. If implemented since day one, you will prevent underperformance in the first place.

Summarising Employee Underperformance

Dealing with and motivating an underperforming employee can be a time-consuming process for managers. But most employees tend to perform better when someone reassures them. As a result, they will, without hesitation, embrace a collaborative method that ensures them a better work environment. By implementing the simple techniques discussed, you will be turning an underperforming employee into a productive team member in no time.



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