Do you have a poor performer (PP) in your midst? Are you too often seeing this person (or group) not meeting targets and not rising to challenges? Well, I’m not blaming you entirely, but with PPs it’s not always a case of them not being good enough for their job. There could be many factors attributing to their poor performance, and it’s your job as a leader to find out exactly what it is that’s effecting their ability to perform. If you don’t know what’s attributing to their poor performance, are you being a good enough leader?

Check it before you wreck it.

How often do you check in with your team? Performance reviews are a great way to find out if each member of your team is performing to their targets, and more importantly, to their full potential, but you don’t have to wait for official performance review time to find this out.

It’s really important you make time to regularly check in with your team. Things can change pretty quickly and if you don’t pick up on it, it could be a case of too much damage done. And I’m not just talking about the targets, I’m also talking about the person––and the team.

There may be an instance where a team member is underperforming without even realising it. Without checking in with that person, this could go unnoticed, and before too long could put the member at risk of losing the drive and motivation it takes to reach their potential.

There are two main reasons for poor performance. One, is the lack of ability and the other is lack of motivation. It’s important you decipher which of the two it is causing the lapse in performance (and deal with it!) before it’s too late.

Lead your poor performers into the light.

Good leadership requires knowing what’s going on in your team and finding ways to constantly improve situations. This particular person might not be underperforming in their role because they’re not capable or willing to achieve goals and work hard, it might be simply a case of them being in the wrong role, lacking a certain skill, or not having appropriate guidance. You’ll never know unless you check in.

What would a good leader do?

If you have a poor performer (PP) in your midst there are a few things you can do to improve the situation for you, the PP and for the rest of the team.

1. Ask them. If you see that one of your team is slipping up here and there, get on it straight away. Have a chat and ask questions about how they are seeing their own performance and get down to whether or not it’s a circumstantial thing––perhaps they have personal issues or are unwell, or maybe they are not understanding their role. The quickest way to find out is to ask.

2. Coach. Once you’ve spoken to PP and figured out where the problem is, perhaps you see a skills gap or lack of motivation. Now is your opportunity to coach them into improving. Allow the PP to set their own goals and implement their own changes to make them accountable for their improved performance. Then check in on them a few weeks down the track to see how it’s going––not their performance, their goals. Even if there aren’t great improvements, they are the ones invested in it and will feel more motivated to find a solution because they’re the ones responsible.

3. Train-up. Perhaps the problem is simply that your PP is lacking certain skills to get their tasks done. If this is the case, allow them to explore where they might need further skills training and implement and encourage it. Again, the more involved they are in their own goal planning, the better the outcome.

At the end of the day, a good leader is not there to reprimand and whip team members into shape. Nor to simply hire & fire until the figures fall into shape. A good leader should be working on the culture, understanding their team and motivating them to reach their own goals and company goals. Guiding them to being better at recognising their downfalls and finding solutions. A good leader is there to make their team members better.


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