Performance Management For Underperformers

Sudha Ponnaganti

Director Of Engineering at Red Hat



You might sometimes inherit teams where a member of the team is an underperformer or in spite of your best efforts to hire a great candidate, it may not turn out that way. Someone may be the wrong fit for a group but an excellent fit in another team, or may lack the technical abilities to keep up with the rest of their team. Performance problems span across multiple areas which will impact business in a negative way. These issues range from technical to soft skills.

Actions taken

Once you run in to performance issues, you start out by evaluating candidates based on their strengths. Assign them projects or tasks which they can excel in. But sometimes it is not possible due to business priorities. It is important to communicate with the underperformer regularly to give them feedback on their performance, areas of strength, opportunities to improve, organizational skills, soft skills or their engagement in projects and in general. First step is identifying the problem. Work with them to identify exactly what it is they need help with and to come up with solutions to help them to be successful. They have to be part of the solution as well. Make sure you provide them with opportunities and visibility so that they can prove themselves. I also encourage my team members to make sure they are engaged in overall business not just in their specific area and update them what is happening in the company or in the organization. This provides them broader context. Based on the area of improvement I put an unofficial goals and see how they are tracking them and improving. This provides them opportunity to get in to the right track and feel good about their job. If the team member still hasn't improved you should have goals which are more specific, and if needed, provide them specific help. This can be making them take training classes, attend meetups, address soft skills. Make use of company resources that can help to achieve these goals. If they are ultimately not a good fit, as a final step it goes in to performance management with help from HR. Meet with HR and understand the policies and put the plan in place along with HR. Set up a contract with the help from HR and follow the contract. These goals will be very specific with smaller milestones. However, this tends to demotivate people and very few people improve when faced with this sort of performance management. So better to address them with second step which is providing them with all the help they needed.

Lessons learned

People will usually be successful if you provide them with the right tools. Don't lower the bar to meet performance goals for members. This is difficult aspect of management.

Be notified about next articles from Sudha Ponnaganti

Sudha Ponnaganti

Director Of Engineering at Red Hat

Leadership DevelopmentCommunicationOrganizational StrategyPerformance MetricsPerformance ReviewsFeedback TechniquesCareer GrowthIndividual Contributor RolesTraining & Mentorship

Connect and Learn with the Best Eng Leaders

We will send you a weekly newsletter with new mentors, circles, peer groups, content, webinars,bounties and free events.


HomeCircles1-on-1 MentorshipBountiesBecome a mentor

© 2024 Plato. All rights reserved

LoginSign up