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Have an Under-performing Employee? Take These 10 Steps

A company works at its best when it has top employees at every position, with all of them performing to the best of their abilities.


While that should constantly be the goal, it’s certainly not always the case.  Employees could fall short of expectations for a number of different reasons (missed deadlines, inability to take direction, problems handling clients), but the result is the same: decreased production and the danger of diminishing profits.


So, what should you do when you have an under-performing employee?  Dan McCarthy, director of executive development programs at the University of New Hampshire, recently published nine steps for dealing with such an employee.  However, we added a bonus step that will allow you to keep one eye on the future while you deal with the challenges of the present.


Those 10 tips are as follows:


  1. Set up a time to meet with the employee, and collect as much information about the problem from as many sources as you can beforehand.


  1. Organize your thoughts and construct a thorough outline of the points you want to cover.


  1. Remember that confrontation is not your goal.  Rather, you want to collaborate with the employee to improve their performance.


  1. Meet discreetly, choosing a quiet time and a private location to reduce distractions.


  1. Don’t focus on negatives, but rather on making the employee understand the impact of their behavior on the company.


  1. Ask the employee what steps they believe they can take to improve.


  1. Review the list of actions to be taken, create a timetable for those actions to be completed, and confirm the employee’s agreement to meet that timetable.


  1. State the consequences of not meeting the timetable, but also tell the employee that you’re confident they will reach the stated goals.


  1. Document the conversation, including the agreed-upon timetable for the completion of goals.


  1. If the goals are NOT met and improvement is NOT achieved, you’ll need a plan for replacing the employee.  This plan should be in place before it is needed, so that a replacement can be found quickly and effectively.


If you don’t have a plan in place, there’s no time like the present.  If you have any questions about how an executive recruiting firm can help you create that plan, contact us at stacy@thevetrecruiter.com.



Link to McCarthy article:




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