5 Ways to Deal with Your Underachieving Employees

Underachieving EmployeesManaging employees and teams can be a rewarding but difficult task. When employees are performing well, business is smooth sailing. But when employee satisfaction, work ethic and engagement start to slip, your business suffers. Unhappy employees alone can cost a business thousands of dollars a year in lost revenue and a bad reputation.

No industry is exempt from having to deal with underachieving employees. This is true for every dealership industry – agriculture, lift truck, construction and truck refrigeration.

If you notice that an employee or team’s behavior is concerning, just remember that at one point, that person or group of people were hired for a reason. They were hired based on reputable skills and attitude and usually just need a little redirection and communication to figure out how to become re-engaged and successful at work again.

What is workplace accountability?

Workplace accountability can be touchy, but it is something that a business owner or manager should address head-on to reduce stalled productivity or poor business transactions. As a manager, you can inspire people to take daily responsibilities seriously and empower employees to be responsible for themselves.

So why should you have workplace accountability?
  • Your employees want it. They want to know how well they’re doing and what they can do to improve and please you. Without accountability or expectations in place, they can’t do that.
  • Your employees need it. They need to know what duties you want them to perform and understand your guidelines.
  • It increases compliance. When you hold employees accountable, you can ensure they are compliant with company policies. This reduces accidents and disasters in the workplace.
  • It increases customer satisfaction. When your employees are engaged, knowledgeable and hard-working, you can have peace of mind knowing your customers are taken care of and happy.

Maintaining workplace accountability doesn’t mean you won’t have problems to fix along the way. First, you need to make sure your employees have a clear understanding of their job duties and have all the tools to do it right. When you’ve done this and still notice underachieving employees, it’s time to address them.

Here are 5 ways to deal with your underachieving employees…
  1. Investigate thoroughly. This Forbes article states it perfectly: when you suspect underachieving employees don’t do anything big right away. Listen, observe, collect data and don’t rush to judge the situation until you understand everything that plays into it. Sometimes when you start an investigation, you’ll realize that one issue is actually caused by a much deeper problem. So, while there may be some obvious actions to correct, there could be more than surface-level problems that need addressing as well.
  2. Give clear feedback. When you realize the issue, communicate clearly with the employee(s) and give clear feedback. Give as much feedback as possible without reprimanding. Communicate what needs to change and a time frame designated for improvement. Sometimes, all people need is a simple nudge.
  3. Create goals together. Set daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals together. Make sure the goals are SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and tangible. Once the goals are set, track them on a daily basis. For best results, you might consider having a customer log where you record the specifics of each customer or client interaction, including who was handling that customer, what was said during the interaction and what the end result was.
  4. Recognize and reward good behavior. Figure out what makes your people tick and reward them for working hard and achieving goals. Even the highest achievers will start to lose interest in working hard if they’re not recognized. Promote them, compensate to motivate them or recognize task accomplishments. These are all good pats on the back for improved efforts and achieving goals.
  5. Make hard decisions. At the end of the day, if you’ve done steps 1-4, and employees are still underachieving, it’s probably time to discipline. Keep the disciplinary steps simple and make sure the punishment matches the crime. Administer the same punishment to everyone involved and make sure it is fair. Give each person a timeline for the consequences and allow them time to change.

Maintaining workplace accountability and managing underachieving employees will help you gain and keep control of your dealership.

If you have doubts about your team, or fear that things have slowed down more than necessary, take the opportunity today to thoroughly evaluate everyone that works for you. 


Check out our Postseason Guide to Evaluating Your People to get tips on how to:

  • Investigate each department
  • Determine each employee’s level of effectiveness
  • Use math to decide if an employee should stay
  • And so much more!


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