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Do employers contribute to the underperformance of their staff?

The underperformance of staff refers to the inability of staff to perform the duties of the role within a given time and also to behave properly at the workplace. Improper behavior includes the tendency of negative attitude and non-compliance with the policies, rules, and procedures of the company.

What causes the underperformance of staff

Generally, the underperformance of staff is due to some causes that vary from company to company. Therefore, a company must put in place a deliberate plan to identify the root cause of underperformance and to develop a consistent approach to addressing the causes. In this article, I will share my views on wide company issues that should be considered when addressing the challenges of underperformance of staff.

Impact on the company

If the underperformance of some staff is not promptly addressed may hurt the team and the company. This may result in decreased morale of staff, productivity, and quality. This will finally result in adversely affecting the key role of staff in attracting, serving, and retaining quality customers that contribute to both revenue and profitability.

Corporate governance system

It is important to establish whether the company has a formal and good system of rules and practices by which it is directed and controlled.  The system should provide for the protection of the interest of key stakeholders including staff. A good corporate governance system will promote operational efficiency, increased business growth, and good returns to the shareholders and will also attract the right staff to the company.

What is the tone at the top?

You may wish to confirm whether a positive attitude to work and corporate culture is being strictly adhered to by the shareholders, directors, and senior management. You do not want to take corrective action on the performance of staff when staff are copying the behaviors of the leaders. You have also to address the root cause of the underperformance of staff.

System of Assessing Performance

The company should have a reliable, goal-oriented, predictable, and forward-looking staff performance assessment system or tool that it can use to regularly assess the performance of staff.

The system should be capable of identifying performance improvement areas and addressing them through developing and implementing an action plan with the input of staff.

The action plan may include attending training programs and coaching sessions among others. The aim of the system should be to continuously help staff to improve their performance.

Ineffectiveness recruitment process

You cannot certainly complain about the underperformance of staff if your recruitment process is affected by informality, lack of accurate job descriptions, lack of shortlisting criteria and ineffective interview questionnaires, deliberate bias, not valuing internal candidates, a deliberate policy of hiring less qualified candidates, poor vetting of candidates, and manipulating the recruitment process among others.

You have first to address the faults in the recruitment process that are resulting in the recruitment of low-caliber staff. It is not possible to get good candidates when you are using a faulty recruitment process.

Effectiveness of the induction program

It is also important to review the company induction program for effectiveness.  The program design might be one-size-fits-all with room for addressing individual challenges.

The extreme of giving too much information to new staff in a short time or no induction program at all should be avoided. The facilitators of the program should be experienced enough to make the program quite lively and relevant.

Impacting of the right skills

The education system tends to give the graduates theoretical knowledge in the area of specialization but not necessarily the skills and work-related ethics necessary to make them effective when they join the labor market.

It is upon the company to continuously impact the necessary skills and work-related ethics to its staff to enhance their performance.

Communication channel

The underperformance could also be due to the breakdown of the communication channels between management and the staff.

If communication channels have broken down, the staff cannot exchange ideas, opinions, data, and knowledge among themselves and between themselves and management.

The breakdown will certainly create a non-conducive working environment with a lot of staff frustrations resulting in underperformance.


The underperformance of staff can result from many causes including the lack of action from the board and management on the company issues discussed in this article.

The work environment will not be conducive to high performance if these issues remain unresolved.