How to deal with Underperformers

Why your leadership skills determine people’s success

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Your first reaction

Real-world situations will often be more challenging than you expect them to be. A real-world example: an employee misses his goal by 60%. During the annual appraisal, the managing director, the line manager, and the HR manager sit together with him. They show understanding for the situation in which we all are right now and are just about to find a segway to close the discussion with a generally positive outlook. Still, the goal set was widely missed and even in two newly available markets, and not a single deal was signed this year. When they come to the closing remarks, the employee interrupts: “I do not feel appreciated here. I have done so much for this company; you should be way nicer to me.” — awkward silence. Facial expressions of the leadership team derail completely.

Be aware of the first statement

Your first statement is always a question.

Professional closing

Having a chat or a professional appraisal with one of your team members always ends with a specific call to action or a concrete next step. Never end on “we will see how it work”. Do not finish a discussion with “I will get back to you in a while”. Refrain from making unclear statements like “maybe there will be a project, but I have to see…”. People understand which message you communicate, and they will always assume the most negative outcome. Agree on a next step and define a call to action. If needed, agree on the following date when you meet again.



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Niels Brabandt

Niels Brabandt is in business since 1998. Helping managers to become better leaders by mastering the concept of Sustainable Leadership. Based in Spain & London.