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It’s an unfortunate fact that, if you are in a leadership position within your company, you will eventually need to deal with an unmotivated or underperforming employee. If you find yourself in such a position, it’s important to address the issues quickly and fairly in order to reduce lost time and damaged morale as much as possible. With that in mind, here are five tips that can help you handle the situation expediently and professionally:

1: Approach the issue at the right time: Managing a tense situation in the heat of the moment can be tricky and often leads to regretful words and actions. Take the time to cool down and think about the situation thoroughly before reacting.

2: Focus only on pertinent facts: It’s hard enough to discuss underperformance with an employee, but this can be made worse by letting the conversation drift. When you approach an employee with criticism be sure to focus on the facts in order to make the interaction as much of a learning experience for the employee as possible.

3: Find a solution…together: Working with the underperforming employee in order to determine what the goals of the position are, how they will go about achieving them, and how they will be held accountable in the future helps to build mutual respect and trust, as the employee will feel more in control of their own destiny and less like they are being micromanaged by leadership.

4: Consistently follow up: Setting a plan to rectify the issues with the employee is a great start, but it means nothing without consistent follow up and accountability. Make sure the employee knows what is expected of them in order to be successful, then set regular meetings to follow up and ensure key performance indicators are being met.

5: Reward improvement early and often: When you see the employee making the right changes and getting back on track, make it a point to reward them fairly and, if necessary, publicly in order to build their confidence and keep them moving in the right direction.

Though it’s never easy to deal with an underperforming employee, acting quickly and following these tips can help salvage what could otherwise be a destructive situation. And, of course, if you’re on the hunt for quality candidates for your team, AtWork has you covered. Visit AtWork.com/locations to find the branch nearest to you today!