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7 reasons why your best employees underperform – and how to fix that


Since many employers spend a lot of time and resources recruiting talent, they expect to get as much return. However, this isn’t always the case. A lot of companies are stuck with employees who have the right qualifications but seem to be unable to perform mundane tasks.

The following are reasons why employees underperform and what you could do to get the best out of them.




  1. Their job description isn’t clear

Many employees perform poorly because they don’t know what tasks they should undertake. They spend a lot of time doing someone else’s duties or performing non-essential work to the detriment of the organisation. To fix this, compare your employees’ job description to the tasks that they actually perform. If there is a mismatch, review the job description and meet with them to clarify their responsibilities.


  1. Poor work environment

Sometimes the problem isn’t where you think it is. If employees are doing all that they can to succeed but their employer isn’t supportive, they might underperform. Managers should provide a supportive work environment to increase the employees’ morale. They should avail all equipment needed to perform tasks in an effective and safe way and offer some flexibility in work schedule.


  1. The Employee Isn’t Qualified For The Job

No matter how good and dedicated an employee is, they won’t be of much help to your company if you give them work that they aren’t qualified for. When employing, ensure that you hire workers with the right qualifications and skills for the vacancy that you are attempting to fill not because they look good on paper. You could also provide training to improve the skills of existing workers or give them a job that matches their qualifications.


  1. Some are overqualified for their jobs

There is nothing as exhausting as being stuck doing the same thing for years. The salary might be good, but it’s not motivating to have nothing to look forward to. Workers who consistently exceed the organisation’s expectations should be promoted. Their new roles will allow them to showcase their skills. Doing so also saves money that the organisation would otherwise spend to hire new employees. Bored employees might underperform and eventually leave the company to look for a better opportunity.


  1. No one is giving them feedback

People like recognition for a job well done. Tell your employees that their effort is appreciated and that the organisation values them. Even if praise is unaccompanied by an increase in salary or a bonus, it will go a long way in encouraging employees to continue performing well. An unappreciative manager will cause resentment because no matter how hard employees work, no one will notice it. Still, you should also give them feedback if they are not doing well. Offer them help if they need it and let them know that you expect them to do better.


  1. Cultural misunderstandings

In an increasingly diverse work environment, it is important for employers to know how to get the best from all employees regardless of gender, race or religion. Diversity brings many talents and strengths to the workplace. However, conflict could arise from these differences, resulting into poor performance by some of the best workers. As an employer, it is important to be able to communicate well with all your workers. Encourage co-workers to acknowledge others’ differences and find similarities, especially the common goal of production and quality in the workplace.


  1. Bullies

Bullies make people uncomfortable and prevent them from doing a good job. Everyone walks on eggshells and is afraid to confront them and more importantly to perform work related tasks with them. The manager should hold bullies accountable for this behaviour and see to it that they treat others respectfully. In addition, let employees know how to behave if they are the victim of a bully. If you are the bully, stop it. Yelling and pointing, won’t get the job done. Communicating in a respectful manner will put everyone at ease.



If you fix these problems that cause employee underperformance, you should be a happy employer. The workers will also be happy to work for you. Put them to the test, and everyone will be happy.


James Pointon is an experienced team leader, a passionate blogger and a part of the team behind OpenAgent. Spending most of his working time with both employees and customers, James has learned valuable lessons on motivation and mediation – lessons which he occasionally shares online. Follow him on LinkedIn.

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One reply on “7 reasons why your best employees underperform – and how to fix that”

Great Article.
Add the “pay-performance disparity” as the 8th Reason pl.
Organisations tend to get sub-optimal staff as they tend to compromise on appropriate pay. That in tern delivers sub-optimal performance and a whole lot of associated challenges.

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