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As a leader, it’s natural to want to reward high-performing employees when they’re already doing so well and they’re likely having the biggest impact on the company’s bottom line. However, focus and support should also be given to average or low-performing employees to benefit not only the company, but also the employees as they continue on their career journeys.

Sometimes, a little acknowledgment and a listening ear is all an average or low-performing employee needs to perform at their best. Here, nine members of Young Entrepreneur Council discuss the things a leader can do to help support and manage an average or low-performing employee and why these things are important.

1. Celebrate Change With A Rewards Program

A company leader can motivate low-performing employees to step up their game by creating a rewards program that celebrates change. Improvement may be incremental, but it is a step in the right direction. Encouragement to do better moves the company to the next level if all employees are moving in a forward direction. – Evan Nierman, Red Banyan

2. Get Their Thoughts On The Situation

To support a low-performing employee, leaders can gather feedback regularly to see things from their point of view. It’s easier to tell how a problem is occurring by simply speaking to the person directly and getting their thoughts on the situation. The solution could end up being very simple. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

3. Work Together To Correct The Underperformance

Working with an average or underperforming employee is almost inescapable. I have had to deal with an employee whose potential I could see, but they weren’t applying themself as much as I knew they could. Investing time and resources in an underperforming worker might appear like a gamble, but it could be immensely rewarding. It is challenging to support an individual who doesn’t think there is a problem, however. The first step, then, is recognizing the problem and communicating with said employee to establish that this problem exists. Once you have established this problem exists, you can work together with actionable plans for how to correct the underperformance. Providing training, accountability partners or mentorship programs to ensure that the correction plan is implemented is an excellent consideration. – Chimezie Emewulu, Seamfix Limited

4. Identify And Treat The Cause, Not The Effect

A leader must be mindful of at least two things: One is that each member of the team is unique and complex in their own way and, therefore, requires a tailored approach to perform at their best. The other is that we must learn to identify and treat causes rather than effects. There are many reasons, both internal and external, why an individual may be performing poorly, and it is up to the leader to find the root cause. Whatever the reason for underperformance is, the solution should come from a positive angle, with deep empathy and genuine concern for the employee’s well-being and development. Negative stimuli rarely deliver sustainable long-term results. – Bogdan Gecic, Gecic Law

5. Give Them More Consistent Feedback


Average and low-performing employees need more consistent feedback. One of the worst things a manager can do is blindside them during a review. Instead, they should be providing consistent communication about areas that need work. Innovation from the leader is also needed; an average or low-performing employee may need more creativity and motivation to help reach their milestones. – Leila Lewis, Be Inspired PR

6. Challenge Them With Specific Milestones

One way to support and manage an underperforming employee is to challenge them with milestones to achieve. Then, it’s important to hold them accountable for completing these milestones. Checking in with them about how things are going as each deadline approaches is a great way to keep the project at the top of their mind so they remember you are counting on them to complete it. Having a project management system to set milestones and keep team members accountable is worth the time investment. Doing so will remind them of their importance in the bigger picture and will hopefully encourage them to complete milestones without needing frequent check-ins. – John Rampton, Calendar

7. Create A Career Path

Employers should work with all their employees to create a career path. Often, a lack of direction or purpose leads to average or low-performing employees. A career path gives each employee a goal-oriented approach and shows them how they can progress through the company. A career path is essential for two reasons: It puts the employee in charge of their career and it provides metrics to gauge employee performance. Another thing career paths can show is whether it’s time to let go of an employee. Sometimes, it’s just not a good fit for your company or the employee. – Jared Weitz, United Capital Source Inc.

8. Set Clear, Measurable Goals

If you’re dealing with an average or low performer, don’t bolt out of your office and start screaming. Instead, get the clearest possible picture of where they should be put together. If the low or average performer is in sales, show them the numbers you would like to see them hit, and strategize a way for them to get there. Don’t be afraid to invite them to share their own thoughts on what may be holding them back. This conversation may get personal, so be prepared for honesty and a deep dive. Beyond any performance metric, we’re all human beings who are typically doing our best, so give your employee the benefit of the doubt when you begin the conversation about improving performance. – Tyler Bray, TK Trailer Parts

9. Offer Opportunities For Further Development

Offering opportunities for further development and training is not only a great way to attract new employees, but it can also help retain your existing employees and enhance their abilities. Make an effort to give your employees as many learning opportunities as possible. This can be as simple as paying for their LinkedIn Learning courses or as complex as sending them off to specialized seminars or intensive courses. In the end, the employees benefit, and you are rewarded with a more skilled workforce. – Salvador Ordorica, The Spanish Group LLC


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