What’s Green and Makes you Cry? – MANAGERS READ THIS!


As a young man in London starting out my career, I worked for a manager who was infamous for addressing non-performing staff by just getting rid of them. How he would do this was to call them into his office and ask them “What’s green and makes you cry?” “The answer is your P45.” Back then, not sure now, you’d get a P45 from your employer when you stopped working for them and it is a green form.

Thank goodness that those days are behind us and managing underperforming staff is more sophisticated, well, it’s “MANAGING” it. Yes, as a leader you are expected to manage!!!


It’s your reputation and legacy – A manager’s reputation is closely tied to the performance of their team. If non-performance is not addressed, it does reflect poorly on the manager’s ability to lead and manage a successful team. Inaction on performance issues will undermine a manager’s authority and credibility. Team members will lose respect for the manager if they perceive a lack of accountability for non-performance.


It only takes one rotten apple to spoil the bunch.


It only takes one rotten apple – Over time, if performance issues are consistently overlooked, it can contribute to a negative organisational culture where mediocrity is tolerated, and high standards are not upheld. Failure to manage nonperforming staff will create tension within the team, leading to conflicts and a disruptive work environment. This can impact collaboration and hinder the achievement of team goals.

To mitigate these consequences, it’s essential for managers to address performance issues promptly, provide constructive feedback, offer support for improvement, and take appropriate disciplinary actions when necessary. Regular communication and performance reviews can also help in identifying and resolving issues before they escalate.

In every workplace, at one point or another, there will come a time where you will need to address underperformance of a team member. Whether you are able to overcome the underperformance depends strongly on how each situation is handled.

Managing underperforming staff can be challenging, but underperformance should be addressed quickly and effectively in order to maintain team productivity and morale. It’s important to have a plan in place for managing underperforming employees.

Here are some steps you can take to help:

Identify the Issue

A good place to start is by identifying specific areas where the employee is underperforming. Is it a lack of skills, motivation, or understanding of their responsibilities?

Some signs to look out for can include:

  • Missed deadlines or targets
  • Decrease in quality of work
  • Repeated mistakes
  • Change in behaviour or attitude

If any of these signs are present, it could indicate where to begin in identifying the issue.


Communicate Clear Expectations

To avoid underperformance, it’s important to make sure employees understands what is expected of them in terms of their performance, deadlines, and quality of work.

Providing them with a clear position description can be helpful to ensure that everyone is on the same page and to avoid the “That’s not my job” approach to tasks.

Clear communication of expectations comes with many benefits including:

  • Setting employees up for success
  • Encouraging accountability and responsibility
  • Promoting a positive work culture
  • Preventing underperformance


Offer Training Programs

Once you have uncovered the cause of underperformance, it can be a good time to offer the employee training.

The right training program, tailored to your industry and workplace needs, as well as strong mentorship can go a long way in giving underperforming staff the inspiration and motivation to improve.

Offering training and development opportunities can make your team members more engaged and increase or give them a newfound passion for their role.


Offer employees training programs


Provide Feedback

Another important step in managing underperformance is to schedule regular feedback sessions to discuss the team member’s performance.

  • Be specific about what they are doing well and where they need to improve.
  • Offer constructive criticism.
  • Provide guidance on how they can improve.


Address Issues Promptly and Document Everything

Addressing underperformance issues promptly is essential for maintaining productivity, preventing escalation, protecting team dynamics, demonstrating fairness, and minimising risks within the organisation.

In some instances, the employee’s performance may not improve despite your efforts. If this is the case, it may be necessary to take further action.

This could involve methods including:

  • Additional training
  • Reassignment of duties
  • Disciplinary measures

It’s important to keep detailed records of performance issues, discussions, and action plans. This documentation will be valuable should further action be needed.


Consider Alternative Solutions

If the employee continues to underperform despite your best efforts, consider whether there are any alternative solutions.

Alternative solutions can include transferring them to a different role or moving them into a different department within the company.


Remember to approach any underperformance situation with empathy and professionalism, and strive to support the employee in improving their performance rather than simply punishing them for underperformance.


Managing underperformance in staff


Contact the HBB Group today to discuss how we can help you boost your team’s morale and improve performance. 


Call 1300 833 574 or email info@hbbausgroup.com.au


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