Almost all employers have dealt with likeable employees that underperform, and it can put employers in a tough position. Employers want to have friendly and easy-going employees, but when those employees start underperforming, it can be difficult to know how to handle the situation.  

Here are three ways to handle likeable, but underperforming employees.  

Look into what might be causing them to underperform  

Instead of immediately thinking it has to do with the employee and their loss of productivity, consider all aspects.  

First, consider the goals you have for them. Are those goals attainable? Are they too extreme? How short are they falling from reaching those goals? If employees have a positive attitude and motivation to get better, but are just not able to reach their goals, it can be worth it to put some effort into figuring out how to help them.  

Second, ask yourself if that employee has all the resources they need to reach their goals. It is important to know if both in-person and remote employees have all the resources they need to reach the goals that are set for them. For remote employees, it may be more difficult to know if they have the proper resources, so prioritize frequently communicating with them and asking them if there is anything additional that they need to be successful.  

Some key resources may include:  

Lastly, are you providing your employees with growth opportunities or incentives? Many employees tend to lose motivation when they feel like there are no opportunities for progression or they are not given any incentives. Employers can consider using incentives or the possibility for advancement in the company as a way to motivate their employees to start reaching their goals.  

Observe their work habits 

Observing the work habits of your employees can help give you a better idea of what may be causing underperformance. Are they taking an excessive number of breaks? Are they constantly on their phone? Do they attend meetings? Do they participate in team activities?  

If you notice that underperforming employees are not putting much effort into reaching their goals, then it may be time to talk to them and come up with a plan to change their work habits.  

Talk to the employee about their work habits and discuss how they can change their work habits to be more productive. It is best to give your employees a chance to improve their habits before deciding to just let them go. After coming up with a plan to have better work habits, observe them over the next few weeks and see if they are really trying to become more productive and reach their goals.  

 Build an environment of open communication  

Building an environment of open communication can help employees feel more comfortable discussing why they are falling short. Having open communication will help resolve the issue of employees underperforming before it becomes an even bigger problem.  

Prioritize having frequent one-on-one meetings with your employees and make sure they feel comfortable communicating about what may be causing them to fall short of reaching their goals.  

 Employees that have a good attitude and likeable personality are not always easy to come by. It is much easier to help someone reach their goals when they have a good attitude than someone who has a negative one. As a leader, it is important to put your employees first and find ways to help them succeed. If you have employees that genuinely want to succeed, but just find it difficult to get there, then prioritize finding ways to help them achieve their goals.