"3 ways to deal with under-performing employees" with Rosa Ponce de Leon, Leadership Strategist

3 ways to deal with under-performing employees

Performance conversations can be awkward, so they are often left unsaid.  Unfortunately, that only fans the flames of underachievement. Many leaders are not comfortable with conflict and most have never received formal training in the art of facilitating a difficult conversation.

Because of this lack of confidence, the issue is never confronted and performance doesn’t improve.  Trust me, I get it.  If you don’t have the tools you need to fix the problem, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to make headway.

Think of it this way…

Your employees want to please you. They want to do a good job (unless they are in the wrong position). But, they can’t fix a problem they may not be fully aware exists.  If you’ve been dreading a difficult conversation, try these three tips to manage your underperforming employees:

  • Use honesty and empathy – Keep in mind that the delivery is more important than the content of the conversation. You want to put your employee at ease and prevent his defenses from creeping into the conversation. Create an environment of learning and growth that is free from fear and retaliation. Honestly, yet kindly,  lay out the deficiencies and provide an opportunity for them to take ownership and ask questions. Allow them to respond to each of your points so you create a mutual understanding of the breakdown.

  • Give feedback more quickly – I don’t know about you, but I’ve worked for supervisors who wait until my review to blast me with things that could be improved. That’s not only unfair, it undermines trust. Take time to give feedback with specific situations as they arise and are fresh in everyone’s mind. Immediate and frequent feedback builds trust and solidarity that everyone is on the same page.

  • Challenge them with more responsibility – It’s common for underperforming people to feel like they are being underutilized. Assign them more tasks with a greater area of responsibility that is in alignment with their strengths. When you demonstrate you still have faith in their ability, you bolster their desire to do better.


If you’ve had challenges with your staff and have felt like you’ve tried everything but aren’t generating the results you want, schedule a free strategy call.

When we work together, you can:

  • Revisit your vision and get everyone back in alignment to your organization’s core values
  • Hold your team accountable for to achieve results based on their own creativity and competencies
  • Create a fear-free zone that allows authentic communication
  • View each person as a champion and recognize their unique contributions
  • Praise and reward each person in their own “love language”


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