Telling someone they're underachieving doesn't have to be a drama-filled process.

How to tell someone they’re bad at their job?


Problems will always arise in the work-related arena. Whether it’s dealing with unruly customers or not being able to follow up on requests, issues will often be blamed on the organisation as a whole.

At the individual level, it can be difficult for managers to express their true appraisals of performance tactfully. However, doing so is a must, especially when solo mistakes have been made.

If you’re the kind of manager who struggles with those courageous conversations, here are the things to keep in mind:

Refer to standards

One of the hardest things about giving difficult feedback is knowing whether you’re being overly critical.

To negate this, make sure that any policy that refers to individual roles is thorough and performance targets sufficiently outlined. When this is the case and any parameters are not met by a member of staff, it makes it easier to explain why you’re having to go over any issues.

Seek the source

Finding the root cause of any issues will make them easier to solve. If you go through the process with the employee, they will perhaps be more open about what’s affecting their performance.

Whether it’s something in their personal life or that they’ve let professional standards slip, pointing out where they’re going wrong will be made easier if you dig that little bit deeper.

Front up

The vast majority of people – even the most hardened workplace leaders – will naturally try and avoid conflict. However, embracing it is the best way forward.

After all, when you tell an individual staff member they’re doing badly, the problem will be corrected quicker.

Don’t shy away from the most difficult conversations, as the benefit of finding the solution to any issues will hugely outweigh any initial reticence you are likely to have.

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