Tips for Helping Under-Performing Employee
(Created by Thomas C. Reeves, January 2003)

1.  Make a list of all the jobs/tasks that the employee is expected to perform and rate his/her performance level for each job/task. (You may need to collect information from the previous manager about this.)

2.  Identify the probable reasons for poor performance. They could include:

  • lack of skills
  • lack of motivation
  • misplacement in job
  • need for structure
  • tardiness 
  • immaturity 
  • lack of organization
  • anger or resentment
  • illness or stress
  • misunderstanding about roles and responsibilities 
  • other ____________________

  • 3.  Of all the performances that you desire to see improved, identify the ones that are most important. Then, looking at these performances, identify those that are most likely to be improved within a relatively short time period (1 2 weeks).

    4.  Share the list with the employee and ask him/her to rate their level of performance on each job/task.  

    5.  Compare your ratings with the employee's (in private) and identify a few job/tasks for improvement over the next 1-2 weeks. Communicate your expectations for improvement clearly to the employee, both verbally and in writing. 

    6.  Look for improvements and reward them. Extend the jobs/tasks for improvement every week or two.  

    7.  React only to problems you detect, not to past behaviors that others report to you.

    8.  Document everything you do. Have the employee sign-off on task/job improvement (or lack thereof) descriptions for each week.  

    9.  If no improvements are forthcoming, seek help from Human Resources Department in how to proceed with firing the employee. You should not try to do this without professional guidance.  

    10. Do your best to help this employee, but don't jeopardize the project or the rest of the team.