Performance Issues With Employees

three people in an office.

You may have one employee who’s lagging on their tasks and deliverables. Maybe they are behaving in a way that you don’t consider professional. How do you deal with their performance issue? Should you confront them about it, or should you just let it slide and hope they will do better next time?

Ignoring an employee’s performance issue is never the right thing to do. You are not doing yourself, the employee, or the company any favors. You need to step in to find out why they are performing poorly and then determine if the problem can be fixed.

Dealing With Employees’ Performance Issues

Confronting an underperforming employee isn’t the most glamorous part of being a manager. It is, however, necessary if you want to grow your team and ensure everyone remains accountable. Monitoring employee performance is vital, whether they work remotely or on-site.

This post will offer you a few tips to handle employee performance issues. You will learn why employees underperform, the types of performance issues, and ways to deal with them.

What Are Some Common Employee Performance Issues?

An employee performance issue doesn’t necessarily have to relate to their quality of work. It can also be anything concerning their conduct while at work. Here are some common employee performance issues you may encounter in the workplace.

Being Late For Work

It’s okay if your employees show up late now and then. Being genuinely late is part of life, and it can happen to anyone who’s having a rough morning. But if you have an employee who’s constantly late for work, you need to address this issue. Lateness often leads to lost time and reduced productivity.


Absenteeism occurs when an employee habitually fails to show up at work when they should. Like being late, it is typical for employees to miss a day or two at work, whether due to illness or a family emergency. But when an employee is habitually absent without permission or good reason, you need to confront them about it.

Poor Work Quality

Poor quality of work occurs when an employee’s tasks do not meet your expectations and the company’s standards. For example, the work may have errors and inaccuracies. It may also be a case of spoilage and wastage of materials.

Inappropriate Physical Behavior

An employee’s work might be per the required standards. But if the employee is behaving inappropriately or unprofessionally, you still need to confront them. Examples of inappropriate physical behavior include drug use, hostility, violence, sleeping at work, and eating in non-designated places.

Failing to Meet Deadlines

If an employee constantly fails to meet the set deadlines, you need to address this performance issue with them. The missing of deadlines usually has a ripple effect. It may delay the responsibilities of another employee who takes up the task. For example, an employee who fails to submit their morning report on time may affect a manager’s ability to review and present it to his superiors.

Inappropriate Interpersonal Relations

An employee may be displaying inappropriate interpersonal relations with their colleagues. For example, they may start gossiping or bullying other staff members. They may also insult or engage in avoidable conflicts with coworkers and other business stakeholders.

Integrity Issues

Integrity issues such as theft of workplace property and dishonest practices should not be left unsaid. An example of integrity issues is when an employee forges records or accounting ledgers to balance their financial statements.

Unwillingness to Follow Required Procedure

Employees might deliver their work on time and to the demanded standard, but they may not be following the required procedure. If they are unwilling to follow the SOPs, you need to treat this as a performance issue and handle it.

Why Do Employees Underperform?

The first step to solving an employee’s performance issue is identifying the cause of their behavior. Let’s discuss the reasons why employees underperform.

Lack of Support

Managers need to provide employees with the necessary support to perform their roles properly. This can be anything from training to offering tools and resources. Inadequate support often causes employees to disengage and lose morale for their job. The ultimate effect is that the employee becomes less productive.

Stressful Working Condition

Stress can arise from many sources. It can occur due to a demanding boss, dangerous working conditions, unreasonable deadlines, and a heavy workload. Stress often affects the performance of employees. It may also impact their ability to focus and cause them to have a negative attitude towards work.

Employees that work in stressful conditions are more prone to making errors. As the manager, strive to create a good work environment that allows every employee to be productive.

Lack of Skill

The employee may be underperforming because they don’t know how to perform a task. In this case, you can either offer guidance and on-the-job training or assign them a job that matches their skill and expertise.

Problems at Home

The causes influencing an employee’s performance don’t necessarily have to be work-related. There may be personal issues at home triggering stress and affecting the employee’s ability to focus.

For example, the employee may be mourning the death of a loved one, handling a divorce, suffering financial problems, or dealing with a family emergency. The best ways to help, in such cases, would be to be patient and empathetic and offer emotional support.

Health-Related Issues

Health-related issues are one of the most common causes of underperformance at work. They are also one of the hardest to identify since many people consider their illnesses a private matter. Your employees might not tell you that they are sick if they can’t communicate openly with you.

Some health-related issues carry a stigma, and thus an employee may opt to stay silent about their condition. As the manager, strive to be approachable such that employees feel comfortable confiding in you.

Lack of Understanding

Does your employee understand what to do and how to perform the job? They may want to perform but don’t fully understand the expectations and lack important details.

Improving employee performance means understanding your staff and their situations. It implies being willing to put yourself in their shoes and seeing things from their perspective. For example, let’s say you tell your employees to do a job and deliver it within this timeframe. Can you also finish the job within the set timeframe?

Failing to understand your employees may cause them to disengage from their roles. It may also prevent them from giving their views and opinions, let alone confiding in you about their circumstances. Eventually, they may become less productive.

Poor Job Design

Job design refers to assigning employees different roles and responsibilities that lead to a bigger goal. It also entails establishing methods, procedures, and protocols for performing the jobs.

A poor job design minimizes efficiency and employee performance. It may also cause dissatisfaction among your staff members and thus reduce their input and productivity. This may be the case when some employees get more tasks than others or when they get assigned tasks unfitting to their skills.

Inadequate Supervision

Supervision can affect employee performance both positively and negatively depending on the intensity. In some cases, it can help increase productivity. In others, it may cause employees to detract from their roles.

The best kind of supervision is that which occurs in moderation. Don’t overly supervise your employees such that they feel like you are micromanaging them. You should also not fail to manage them at all as it may affect their morale.

A lack of supervision may lead to increased absenteeism and reduced productivity from employees who aren’t self-motivated. It may also make employees feel you don’t support them, especially when handling a difficult or sensitive task that requires guidance.

Why You Should Document Employee Performance Issues

Documentation of employee performance involves recording both positive and negative events by an employee. Managers and HR representatives need to document everything an employee did or said for future reference. Here are a few reasons why documentation of employee performance is essential:

  • Provides Evidence

Documentation provides proof of an employee’s conduct and performance. It allows managers and HR representatives to decide whether an employee deserves a promotion or an unfavorable course of action such as termination.

  • Protects the Company From Unlawful Termination Lawsuits

If employees feel their termination was unjust, they may sue your company. In this case, documentation will act as evidence of conduct and performance. It will help support the management’s decision to terminate the employee.

  • Enables Management to Track Performance

Documentation gives a history of an employee’s progress, starting from when they joined your company. It highlights their failures, successes, and improvements over the years. Managers can use this information to justify giving a promotion or an increase in salary. They can also use it to assess if an employee is fit for a position transfer within the company.

How to Document Employee Performance Issues

Here are the best practices for documenting employee performance issues:

  • Document Immediately

Document an employee’s performance issue during or after the conversation with them. Don’t wait until the following day. By doing it there and then, it is easier to remember what happened.
If you postpone, you may have a tough time reconstructing everything you and the employee discussed.

  • Put It in Writing

Documentation is better when put in writing. A written agreement acts as proof of the issues discussed. It prevents both parties from forgetting, denying, or changing the tale.

  • Be Factual

Ensure you indicate the place and date of the meeting with the employee for credibility purposes. Narrate their performance issue in detail and highlight how it impacted your team and the company. Describe also the course of action and the expected behavioral change.

  • Sign Off

Sign off the documentation with your and the employee’s signature. Signing off shows that you both agree to everything discussed in the document.

If the employee refuses to sign, you can get a witness to sign on their behalf. Afterward, indicate that the employee refused to sign the document.

Steps to Deal With Employee Underperformance

Whenever you notice that an employee is not performing at their peak, you shouldn’t be quick to pass judgment and blame on them. There might be an underlying issue affecting their ability to focus. Before you resort to any action, take a day or two to assess the situation. Check out these steps for dealing with employee underperformance.

Identify the Underlying Problem

The first thing you need to do when handling an employee performance issue is to identify the cause of the problem. What problem may be causing the employee to underperform? Is it a lack of skill or motivation? Is the employee sick, or are they dealing with a personal issue at home? Once you identify the underlying point, let it guide you on what action to take next.

Determine Whether It’s a Pattern

Is this the first time the employee has underperformed, or is there a pattern? Try reviewing the employee’s history in the company to assess whether they’ve had this issue before. This is where the employee performance document comes in.

Address the Issue With the Employee

Call the employee to your office and have a one-on-one conversation about their underperformance. Outline your concerns about the underperformance and how it has impacted the rest of the team and the organization. Give the staff a chance to explain what may be causing them to underperform.

Remember to use a neutral tone, if not a positive one. Speaking negatively only makes the employee feel like you are blaming them. They may get defensive. The goal here is to help the employee improve their performance, which requires them to be willing to change.

Assess Whether the Issue Can Be Resolved

Some performance issues can be corrected with planning and the employee’s willingness to change. Some are not, and the only solution may be termination. When determining whether a performance issue is repairable, check the underlying problem, the seriousness of their underperformance, and the presence of patterns.

If termination is the only solution, proceed to let the employee go. If the performance issue can be corrected, then move forward to develop an action plan.

Encourage Open Communication

This time when an employee is underperforming is when they need your support the most. Be approachable and encourage the employee to talk to you on a personal level. Assist them where you need to and acknowledge their views and concerns.

Develop a Clear Set of Actions

Depending on the employee’s underlying issue, your next step should be to develop a set of actions. Draw up a plan on what the worker needs to improve their performance. Highlight also the resources and support necessary. For example, they may have to undergo training in their role. Set a clear deadline on when you’d expect the employee to be back on track in their performance.

It’s better to create the action plan with the employee rather than do it yourself. This way, they will be more in tune with what they need to do to improve performance. You can also encourage the employee to put forward their own goals and recommendations to ensure they feel in control of their situation.

Create a Follow-up Plan On Performance

Having a conversation with the employee doesn’t resolve their underperformance issue. You need to give them reasonable time to follow through on the action plan and improve.

Create a plan for checking in with the employee. For example, you can follow up with them every week to see how they are faring. Recognize and appreciate their progress, and make changes whenever necessary. Let the employee give you feedback on whether the action plan is helping them improve their performance.


One of your roles as a manager is to ensure your employees work at their peak performance. Whenever you notice that one of your staff members is underperforming, talk to them about it. You won’t be helping anyone by letting their performance issue go unsaid.

The first step to handling an employee performance issue is identifying the underlying problem. Many reasons can make an employee underperform. Next up, determine whether it is a pattern and if can be corrected. You can then move forward to create an action plan or let the employee go if this is the only solution. Don’t forget to document the performance issue.

Related Articles

Types of Employee Training Programs

Managing Employees That Don’t Listen

How To Motivate Employees

Valid Reasons to Write Up An Employee

Employee Write Up Forms

How To Fire an Employee


Below you’ll find various resources that can help you with employee performance. In addition, many of the links lead to Google search results so that you always have the most popular and latest information.

Employee Per­for­mance Check­lists

There are always a lot of points to keep in mind when looking at employee performance. The link below offers the latest checklists you can have a look at and use as-is or inspire you to create a checklist that’s specific to your needs.

Have a look at the latest search results for employee per­for­mance check­lists.

Employee Per­for­mance Reviews

Performance reviews are an excellent way to keep track of your employee’s performance. In addition, reviews are an important opportunity to discuss expectations and coach your employees on areas where they can improve or excel.

Spend a few minutes on the link below for tips, insights, and templates to create or enhance your performance review process.

Have a look at the latest search results for employee performance reviews.

Tools to Track Employee Performance

There are numerous tools available to help you track employee performance. Using a tool will make the process easy to store and retrieve records. In addition, a good tracking system in place will make discussions accurate and effective.

Spend a few minutes checking the trackers available. It’s worth checking out reviews for the tracker you are interested in. Many offer a free trial or a demo.

Have a look at the latest search results for tools to track employee performance.

24 Simple Tips That Can Help You Improve Employee Performance

There are many things you can do to improve employee performance. For example, you can create an incentive program, get employees involved in decisions, make the job enjoyable, make the position easier, etc.


If you want to go in-depth to improve employee performance, you may want to see the published books on the market. You may want to get one or more for your library. I like nonfiction books because you can skip to the chapter to obtain the information you need.

Below are two links one offers Google search results for the master books related to employee performance, and the other leads to books offered by Amazon.

View the most recent Google search results for employee performance books.

View the most recent books related to employee performance on Amazon.


Another option is to take a course to help you become a specialist in managing employee performance. Again, there are numerous courses available, and it doesn’t hurt to browse. If you find one that appeals to you, research the course before enrolling. You can also lookup the author or instructor.

Google’s search results related to employee management courses.


The news is another way to get information about employee performance. If the media is covering the topic, then it has some merit. You’ll want to use a site like Google News that allows you to enter a keyword to get the latest and archived news stories.

See Google’s news search results related to employee performance.

YouTube Videos

YouTube is an excellent source of information, especially for visual learners. I often turn to YouTube for tutorials and to broaden my knowledge. Since anyone can post on YouTube, some videos are low quality while many professional and useful ones exist. You will know within a few seconds if the video is worth watching or not.

See the most recent videos related to employee performance.