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Annual reviews are more than just a formality — they’re a way to make sure you have all the right people in all the right places. If your yearly assessment revealed that someone isn’t cutting it, you must take action right away. The business world gets more competitive each day, so you need a team of skilled workers who are willing and able to function at full capacity.

How to Handle a Negative Employee

Follow these four steps to see if a poor performing employee can turn things around or if you’ll have to let them go:

Address the Situation Head-On

Telling an employee their work isn’t up to par can be an awkward and uncomfortable situation, but just remember, you’re their boss — not their friend. Schedule a meeting to discuss the matter immediately, to try to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. Tell the person in a polite, yet firm, manner exactly what they’re doing wrong and the consequences they’ll incur if their performance doesn’t improve.

Create a Corrective Action Plan

Help the employee learn and grow from their mistakes by creating a corrective action plan. This should include specific steps they need to take to improve their work, goals to measure success and the timetable you expect everything to be completed by. Offer any necessary training needed to meet the set objectives and make it clear that you’re here to help them overcome these issues.

Closely Monitor Their Performance

Meet with the employee regularly to discuss the progress they’re making and see if there’s any obstacles in their path keeping them from success. You want to help them improve their performance, not make them feel attacked an alienated from the rest of the group. The way you handle this situation can make all the difference, so be sure they feel comfortable coming to you with any questions or concerns.

Make a Final Employment Decision

When the deadline for improvement is up, carefully assess the progress the employee has made to see if it’s enough to keep them on your team. If so, let them know you’re proud of all the hard work they did to get where they are today and that you expect this same amount of effort going forward. If not, gently let the person know that you appreciate all the contributions they made to the company, but they’re just not the right fit for the job. Consult your organization’s termination policy to make sure you have followed all the proper guidelines, because you don’t want a lawsuit on your hands.

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