Engaging an Underperforming Team Member

What is the root of the issue?

Summary
Transcript

Lesly Webb, senior vice president of operations at Field Agent, shares advice about what to do when a team member is underperforming. 

“One of the first things that I do when I realize that there's someone who's underperforming, I really want to try to get to the root cause and figure out the why, because there's usually a reason,” she says. “Oftentimes there is something that's underlying, but whether there is or isn't, you still have to make sure that the employee knows that there are certain thresholds that are acceptable.”

Watch the video to learn what else you should do when engaging an underperforming team member and how to course-correct. 

TAKEAWAYS
- When a team member is underperforming, give direct feedback.
- Ask questions to find out if there is an underlying cause of poor performance.
- Share concrete actions and expectations on what they should do to improve.

So as a leader, we have to sometimes handle team members who are underperforming, and the best way to do that, I think, is just straightforward feedback. It's not always easy to do. But one of the first things that I do when I realize that there's someone who's underperforming, I really want to try to get to the root cause and figure out the why, because there's usually a reason.

So I would take that person aside privately and just have a conversation with them. But before I do that, I would really have a prayer time, basically, to try to make sure that I'm speaking to that person with truth and love, because that's important. If the person realizes that you really are trying to pour into them and help them, typically you'll get a better response.

So I will talk one-on-one with the person. I don't believe in compliment sandwiches. I don't think that's helpful. So I will just say, "Look, this is what I'm seeing, and this is really where I need you to be. Is there something that's going on? Can you help me understand maybe why your performance isn't up to where it needs to be?"

And a lot of times you'll learn a lot. And oftentimes there is something that's underlying. But whether there is or isn't, you still have to make sure that the employee knows that there are certain thresholds that are acceptable. And so during that conversation I would say, "Look, this is where I need you to be. And we're going to have a follow-up conversation in a couple of weeks. We're going to touch base on this topic again, and I'm anxious to see what improvements you've made. And here are some specific things that you can do."

So being specific with the feedback, giving them very concrete things that they can do to improve, and then following through on your follow-up is key to helping someone.
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Lesly Webb

Lesly Webb is senior vice president of operations at Field Agent Inc., where she leads multiple teams to deliver results with speed and excellence. Lesly joined Field Agent in 2011 after 10 years in the supplier community in sales and...

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