It’s always frustrating to have an employee(s) who doesn’t pull their weight. You hired bright people you believed would contribute to the team, so when they don’t, it’s only natural to become annoyed.

Instead of losing your cool, try to get to the root of the problem. Poor performance can be caused by many factors, including unclear job expectations, lack of sufficient training and too hefty of a workload. You won’t know exactly what’s going on until you talk to the person, so take them aside for a private chat and start making strides to turn things around for the better.

Get on the Same Page With the Employee

It’s possible the person has no idea they’re not meeting your expectations. Cite specific examples to explain why their performance isn’t up to par. Be kind, as having an attitude will only cause them to become defensive. Show respect by allowing them to explain themselves without interruption.

Set Specific Performance Improvement Goals

After you figure out what’s going on, it’s time to start working toward positive changes. Set specific goals for the employee that clearly state the improvements you expect them to make by a certain date. Review these objectives with the person to make sure they understand them and feel equipped to deliver. You may need to provide additional training, so be willing to do so if necessary.

Clearly State Consequences for Non-Compliance

Give the person a solid reason to achieve their performance goals by setting consequences for failure. Make sure they understand what will happen if they don’t meet your expectations. Hopefully, they’ll step up their game, but if not, this ensures further disciplinary action — or termination — won’t come as a surprise.

Put Every Warning in Writing

You don’t want a lawsuit on your hands if you have to terminate the person’s employment. Avoid this by documenting every meeting and subsequent warning in writing. Have the employee initial each document to make it clear they received the warning and understood its consequences. If your company has a dedicated HR rep, consider inviting them to these meetings, so you’ll have plenty of proof that you followed the rules.

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