It isn’t easy to talk to an employee about their poor performance. Most managers dread this part of their job, but everyone faces it. This talk is very challenging because people don’t like confrontation. Plus, you want every employee to be productive and engaged. This can be a learning opportunity for you both and can help you deal with poor performers effectively.

How to Tell an Employee They Need to Improve

It’s important to be forthright but caring when you talk to an employee. One way to do this is to have a plan that you use for each conversation. For example, you can:

Show Concern

Employees have to know what your expectations are. This is the first step to ensure that they are doing what they should. Stay focused on the conversation at hand; don’t add fluff or talk about outside-work things.

Share Observations

Offer specific information about the behaviors you have seen. Try not to use third-party information here. This might make the employee feel like everyone is out to get them.

Explain How It Affects Others

Sometimes, employees don’t realize their behaviors negatively impact the entire team or company. It’s important that they understand that they are hurting everyone. Of course, you have to find a way to show them that this is a problem. You shouldn’t bring others into the mix; it might put the employee on the defensive. Instead, talk to them about their personal employee performance.

Describe Expected behavior

Now, you’ve got to determine what behaviors they should be doing. Many times, they want to do the right thing, but this may be hard because they aren’t sure what that is. Don’t back down during this part of the conversation. If possible, let them know that they aren’t in trouble now. This is one way to ease their mind and allow them to want to make it right.

Workplace expert tips on underperforming employees

Seven workplace experts give their coaching tips for underperforming employees | Image via

How to Deal with an Underperforming Employee

You may not desire to have a conversation with someone who had poor performance. Learning how to discuss poor performance with an employee can help you do your job better.

The first thing is to ensure that you’re honest and have empathy. You may want to terrorize them and demand that they change their ways, but you may find that isn’t the best tactic. Tell them that they can improve and that you need them to. Put yourself in their shoes first.

Consider writing the conversation down first. Familiarize yourself with their job description and make the time to know what you need to say. One of the things you can do here is to consider the three-point. Discuss their poor performance while focusing on ways to improve. Let them know your expectations. Find ways to give examples.

You should also focus on giving feedback immediately. Sometimes, employees forget what they have done wrong. When you bring up the poor performance, they may not remember what happened. Make time to find them and talk about the issues before things get out of hand. Their performance may improve because they know what your expectations are.

As a manager, you’re put in a situation that can be difficult. The issue is helping them understand what they did wrong through discussions. It doesn’t have to be a single conversation. Have a meeting, let them ask questions, and consider all the solutions. This says to them that you hope they can improve and follow the rules. Problems can be serious. It’s often best to talk about your concerns and resolve them before they become worse.

How to Talk to an Employee about Performance

A discussion is important because you can’t have one person not holding their weight. They must face the issue head-on, even if they feel they can’t. They aren’t going to be able to do without clear management from you. The organization could falter because they aren’t doing enough.

The good news is that you can talk to them about their problems. Consider the root cause of the issue. Once you learn what that is, have repeat conversations and follow-ups with the employee. That way, they don’t forget what you said and are going to keep at it until they are great again.

Try to keep things private. Yes, other members of the staff may be part of it, but use your best judgment. Most people get embarrassed and become defensive if they see a lot of people in the room.

Now might not be the time to hire an expert. Don’t reward poor performance. Explain that there could be rewards for improvement. Their performance is hurting everyone, but it’s possible to change. Be prepared to give them new solutions and options.

Good Managers Discipline Employees Who Do Poor Work

No one wants to deal with an employee who has poor performance. Manage an employee efficiently now to nip it in the bud and make sure that they know you are there to help them. Now is not the moment to be rude or mean. Yes, you have to discipline them by cutting their hours, taking responsibilities away, or something else. These things are important so that they understand their poor performance at work. This also can help you reduce the risk of more performance issues in the future.


When it’s time to address bad performance from your staff, it’s tough to know where to start. You can’t leave things alone because the business is going to falter. While you can send an email, you don’t know when or if they are going to read it. Instead, be forthright and honest, but also try to be respectful and empathetic. This gives the best results in the long-run.

Of course, you have to ensure that you’re for the team and the company. Still, you may realize what’s going on in that person’s personal life. You can take all that into account, but your loyalty remains with the organization. Let them know that, but also be kind and considerate.