How to Manage an Individual Who Isn’t Meeting Expectations

Telling an individual that they are underperforming is never easy. Most fear how the person will react, if they will get angry, confrontational, or flat out disagree. Leading individuals who perform below expectations is hard for anyone. 

But you should always feel comfortable discussing an employee’s performance because if you’re not, they can never improve and you won’t be able to rely on them. Here’s how you can have a talk with an individual who isn’t meeting expectations constructively and in a non-confrontational way.

Self-evaluation is key to difficult employee management

This is a great way to get the conversation going and it can give you a lot of insight into how to approach the conversation and why this individual might be performing the way they are. There’s a big difference between asking and telling—and it’s crucial for difficult employee management.

If you do this, you will have a lot of leverage in discussing your employee’s performance and they will be able to easily understand where they are falling behind. Also, by relating their performance to your company’s goals, you aren’t telling this individual that they aren’t meeting your expectations per se but that they are failing to meet the greater demand of your team.

Leading individuals who perform below expectations

A big difference between constructive criticism and unconstructive criticism is walking away with an idea of how to get better. Relate it back to your company’s goals and be clear about what you expect. Your priority is to make sure there isn’t the chance for any misunderstanding and that everyone on your team has a clearly defined set of expectations to follow.

When you come out of that talk with your employee, make sure to come out with a plan and a mutual understanding. You need to have clear and measurable goals that you can both track.

Practice active listening 

Your goal when talking to an underperforming individual shouldn’t be to scold them. Make an effort to understand the source of the problem and if there is anything you can be doing to better the situation.

For example, it’s possible that your employee may be underperforming because communication was unclear, expectations were never set, or that they have too many responsibilities and are expected to do too much.

What you want to avoid doing is just telling this person they aren’t meeting your expectations without knowing more about what they think of their performance or any relevant information about challenges they may be facing in or outside the workplace.

Building stronger leaders together

Cain Consulting teaches leaders how to handle difficult situations like leading individuals who perform below expectations. Building your skills as a leader is essential for achieving your goals as an individual and a business, and difficult employee management. If you want to improve your skills as a leader and your ability to communicate with your employees, contact us to learn more about how we can help you. 

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