Stress and confusion can build up whenever you notice an employee constantly doing the bare minimum in the workplace or consistently producing poor-quality work. It may feel even more frustrating when you have failed at almost every attempt in your position to help them perform better.

How can you proceed from here? Is there an effective way to turn the tides around in everyone’s favour? Here are a few ways to manage underperforming team members positively.

1. Set clear expectations

Ensuring clear expectations allows for more transparent communication with the weak employee. You might find they are not doing as well at their job because they misunderstand what is expected for specific tasks or projects.

Sit down and have a short meeting or conversation with your team member; ensure that you take a friendly but firm approach so that they are not too intimidated by you, but they also know that what you want to discuss is a serious matter. It can also help if you ask whether your employee is aware of their underperformance so that you both are on the same page; this way, they have a chance to take ownership and work to guide themselves better.

Your workers are less likely to be bewildered as they would know what milestones or deliverables you expect to be done. It gives them something specific to aim towards, meeting your needs as a leader better too.

2. Provide constructive feedback

As you set expectations, letting your employees know what they lack in their skills offers them a chance to understand and take action to improve. However, ensure your feedback does not crash their confidence with unkind or harsh comments.

Be accurate when explaining which areas your team member lacks without personal attacks. Communicate your thoughts but avoid overly sugarcoating as it may not be the honesty they need to progress well.

If you want to, try taking a coaching approach by problem-solving instead of telling. You can even consider attending a coaching session to learn methods from a trained professional with executive performance coaching in Singapore.

A good rule of thumb is to balance the amount of negative feedback with positive ones so that you can still encourage and inspire. It is also the mark of becoming a better leader in life when you can do this well when giving critiques on your employee’s work.

3. Take note of your management and leadership style

Leading by example is vital as your management and leadership style can impact your team members. A few examples of leadership styles are:

  • Visionary – enthused and committed to realising their objectives, they work to motivate their team members to carry out their outlined strategies. These leaders put forth novel concepts and effect positive change.
  • Coaching – concerned with the long-term development of the team members. Instead of emphasising hierarchy and command, this leadership approach emphasises collaboration and partnership by maximising the potential of every team member to improve performance as a whole.
  • Transformational – challenge current methods using inspiration and involvement. They inspire team members to innovate and adapt, encouraging a high level of independence, which gives people the freedom to be innovative.
  • Autocratic – a single authority which establishes all company guidelines, formulates all primary objectives and approves all significant choices without much involvement from their subordinates. When someone needs quick decisions, autocratic leaders are most effective. These managers keep a close eye on their staff and demand top performance.

Some styles may work with some employees’ work ethics, whereas others not as well. To counter instances where your leadership style may not be practical, offer a time for your team to voice concerns so you can also help them by improving your management.

Take a different approach if your methods may not suit your employee’s work style so that your team’s dynamic is more harmonious.


Seeing an employee underperforming can be worrying to some leaders. Still, as long as you are equipped with the skills and knowledge to manage your team confidently and positively, you will be able to guide them well towards better progress and success.

If the issues are more complex, you need more help and advice to bring out the best in your workers. As a leader, you can also recommend your talented but underperforming employees to be coached to find out their interference to high performance. The coach can work with them to formulate a plan to remove those barriers and unlock their hidden potential – doing this can be easy with BestOfMe’s coaching for organisations and executives. With experienced coaches, they will guide you to grow and learn. Contact us today to find out more.

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