Overcoming Employee Performance Issues

Apr 5, 2024 | Listen

Is poor performance plaguing your business? 

Perhaps you’re grappling with employees who habitually arrive late or repeatedly miss deadlines. Maybe certain team members consistently fall short of expectations. Regardless of the specifics, poor performance inevitably chips away at your bottom line, making it imperative to identify its underlying causes.

Could the issue stem from inadequate onboarding processes? Is it a symptom of weak leadership or breakdowns in communication? Or is it simply a stroke of bad luck?

Understanding the reasons behind poor performance is the first step toward implementing effective changes that drive tangible improvements. So, what strategies can you employ to turn the tide and elevate your team’s performance?

Barbara Mason: Employee Performance Expert

In today’s episode, Barbara Mason shares valuable insights on tackling poor employee performance in small businesses. From setting clear expectations to implementing accountability measures, discover the root causes to come up with effective solutions. 

Timestamps for this week’s episode

04:09 Employee accountability for performance improvement

06:40 Addressing the causes of poor performance

11:21 Importance of documentation in performance management

17:39 The impact of hiring and onboarding processes on performance

28:48 Actionable steps to take when addressing an employee performance issue

“It’s amazing to me how (employee) expectations are not set in the beginning. We haven’t clearly defined as leaders what we want the employee to do, but yet we’re very quick to recognize, “Hey, this is not working out…this is not what I want.” – Barbara Mason

Employee accountability for performance improvement

To make employees become more accountable for their performance, good or bad, start by having an open and non-confrontational dialogue with them. This is a way for you to explore what’s happening with them – to identify any obstacles or challenges that are getting in the way of their being effective team members. 

Maybe it’s a culture issue or personality clashes. They might be swamped with work or maybe something is happening in their personal lives. Don’t judge and just encourage them to open up and share their perspective. Then you can work together to find solutions. This collaborative approach and your understanding will go a long way in helping improve overall performance.

I think it's important for the employee to know whatever tasks they're doing, how it associates to the bigger picture.

Addressing the causes of poor performance

  1. Facilitate open dialogues and engage in non-judgmental conversations with employees to explore any challenges they might be facing.

  1. Set clear expectations by establishing specific goals and deadlines and outlining what needs to be achieved and by when.

  1. Regularly track employee performance and share it with them so they know they are meeting expectations or not. This is also the best time to identify areas for improvement.

  1. Have clear disciplinary procedures in place and enforce these rules If poor performance continues despite the support and feedback.

  1. Encourage continuous improvement across all your operations to teach your employees to value growth and development.

“As the leader, you need to feel comfortable that you set the expectation, gave them a chance to improve, told them exactly what they needed to do to improve, and went back and followed up.” – Barbara Mason

Importance of documentation in performance management

When you have documentation in place, not only will it protect you or the company against legal risks but it is also a way to give and receive constructive feedback and improvement.

These documents can note down conversations, agreements and what are expectations from both the employer and employee. By documenting key interactions, you’ll have a clear trail of communication and accountability. This will help you set up a structured disciplinary process as well.

If leaders have not set expectations, how do you know your employees are not meeting them? There's always an expectation, whether or not it's documented or communicated; if someone's not meeting it, then there's an expectation.

The impact of hiring and onboarding processes on performance

You have to get your hiring and onboarding right to make sure your employees match your culture. 

Without a well-defined hiring process that can support the needs of your business, you risk selecting candidates who are not suited to certain roles, leading to performance issues down the line. 

Setting clear expectations and accountability from the start is also very clear on their key to fostering success.

“When you have employees, you need infrastructure; documented processes, SOPs, policies, guidelines, and it seems like, “Oh, I don’t have time for that.” You don’t have time for it because that’s what’s going to help save you and  expedite your ability to manage people because you have something written down.” – Barbara Mason

Actionable steps to take when addressing employee performance issue

Talk to your employees. Have candid conversations with them to discover what’s the root causes of the problem.  

Own any of the issues regarding setting expectations and communicate clearly what needs to change moving forward. 

Collaborate with employees to establish a plan for improvement and offer support to facilitate their success in meeting new expectations.


  • Foster open dialogues with employees to identify obstacles hindering performance and set clear expectations.

  • Track performance, provide feedback, and enforce disciplinary procedures if needed for continuous improvement.

  • Document conversations and agreements to establish accountability and structure in disciplinary processes.

  • Implement a well-defined hiring process to minimize performance issues by ensuring candidates are suited to their roles.

  • Engage in candid conversations, set expectations, collaborate on improvement plans, and offer support for success.


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About guest – Barbara Mason


Career Pathways Consulting

Barbara Mason is a renowned career coach and HR insider with a passion for helping develop career-oriented teams that will help your business’s growth and workplace culture. She has a remarkable track record in positioning professionals and CEOs for significant business and career growth.

Her mission is to create an HR agency that is people-centered and addresses the needs of everyone, especially female small business owners and female professionals in the workforce. She can definitely share her expertise and knowledge with your valued listeners.

Website: https://careerpathwaysconsulting.com/

LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/company/careerpathwaysconsulting/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/yourhrinsider/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/careerpathwaysconsulting

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/careerpathways7

About host – Kathy Svetina

Kathy Svetina is a Fractional CFO for growing small businesses with $10M+ in annual revenue.

Clients hire her when they’re unsure about what’s going on in their finances, are stressed out by making financial decisions, or need to structure their finances to keep up with their growth.

She solves their nagging money mysteries and builds a financial structure with a tailored financial strategy. That way they can grow in a financially healthy and sustainable way.

Kathy is based in Chicago, IL and works with clients all over the US.

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