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Motivate low-performing employees

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in Leaders & Managers,People Management

To motivate people who frequently don’t deliver, use these approaches:

  • Check in—often. If you know frequent follow-up is the only way to get through to an employee, schedule progress check-ins. Use calendar reminders to ping you when it’s time to receive a status update.
  • Adapt your communication style. Talk to employees about how they want to communicate with you, whether that is in person or via email, text, phone call or instant messaging. If communication still doesn’t improve, you may need to consider disciplinary action.
  • Schedule weekly meetings. Leave plenty of time to discuss challenges the employee is facing and to talk about solutions.
  • Speak honestly. If your efforts are ineffective, it’s time to get real. Remind the employee of all you’ve been doing to support him or her. Present a plan to turn around the behavior, explaining that it is mandatory that the person’s performance improve.
  • Decide to terminate. When you have provided support in every way you can without seeing improvement, it’s time to let the employee go. Be sure to document all of the steps you’ve taken to turn around the performance. Then meet with HR and your supervisor to discuss your next steps.

— Adapted from “How to Motivate People Who Aren’t Delivering,” Stever Robbins,

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