As a business, you simply cannot afford to have poorly performing staff in your work force and the issue must be addressed as soon as possible. This is not to say that poor performance cannot take place, of course, it can, we are after all human, your responsibility, however, is to get to the bottom of this poor performance and help the member of staff to turn it around.

We were chatting with Haris Ahmed Chicago based business leader and management coach recently about the importance of performance management and the damage which poor performance can cause, here are some of the pointers which he gave us on dealing with under-performing staff.

Open a Dialogue

Many leaders will ignore poor performing staff or simply treat them with disdain, criticize them or give them less tasks because they don’t want to address the problem. This is the wrong approach and in order to fix poor performance, you must begin a dialogue with the member of staff in question. There may very well be a good reason for their poor performance, perhaps a personal issue, a conflict in the workplace or they may not be properly trained for their role. These are all issues that you need to get to the bottom of as they will be your responsibility to help fix.

Performance Management

Should the individual not have any extenuating circumstances which have contributed towards their poor performance then you need to begin an assessment program with them. The time frame will be up to you based on how poorly they are performing and how long you think it will take for them to turn things around. You must do your part here and offer to retrain the member of staff and offer them an open channel with you or a member of your team so that they can ask any questions which they may have. You should set weekly goals and meet every week consistently in order to assess their progress.

Disciplinary Action

If things haven’t changed to your liking then you need to introduce disciplinary action in three stages. The first stage would be a verbal warning, this is to let the member of staff know that their performance is not good enough and despite efforts to support them, they have not improved. The second would be a written warning with the same message although a little stronger and the ultimately you will give them a final written warning, a message that says failure to improve performance will result in the termination of their contract.


It is not a fun part of the job but the success of a business should always be forthright in your mind and if you have a poorly performing individual who refuses to improve how they work after much support and disciplinary action, then you have no option but to terminate their contract. Before you do this, take legal counsel to ensure that you have done everything in your power and have the right evidence of this before terminating the contract, this is to ensure that you are operating within the law.