Understanding underperformance

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Underperformance is when an employee fails to perform the duties of their role to the required standard, fails to comply with workplace policies, rules or procedures and/or behaves in an unacceptable manner in the workplace.

What is underperformance?

Underperformance is not the same as serious misconduct, for example, theft or assault. Serious misconduct may warrant instant dismissal and you should always seek advice from your manager and/or HR before taking any action.

performance management understanding underperformance

Reasons for underperformance

There are many reasons why an employee might perform and/or behave poorly in the workplace. In order to manage underperformance, you need to understand why it is occurring.

Some of the most common reasons for an employee's underperformance include:

  • They don't know what is expected of them
    If role requirements, behavioural standards and/or workplace policies are unclear (or have not been set), employees may not know what is expected of them.
  • They are lacking the necessary knowledge and skills
    If the requirements of the role exceed the employee's capabilities, the employee may struggle to meet the requirements of the role.
  • They don't know that they are underperforming
    If a manger does not provide adequate performance feedback, the employee may be unaware that they are not meeting the required standards.
  • They aren't engaged
    If an employee is disengaged from their work, their performance will suffer. This could be due to a number of reasons including a lack of interest in the work, excessive workload, poor working conditions etc.
  • They are dealing with personal issues
    If an employee is dealing with personal issues such as family stress, physical and/or mental health issues, problems with drugs or alcohol etc., this can have a severe impact on their performance.

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