14 Questions to Ask an Underperformer to Get to the Root of the Issue

14 Questions to Ask an Underperformer to Get to the Root of the Issue

Recognising underperformance in a team member can be tough. We’ve all been there, right? Feeling like they’re slipping, not on the same page, and not sure how to handle it. But as leaders, it’s vital to address these issues head-on, and that starts with self-reflection.

When an employee isn’t performing as expected, it’s easy to place blame on external factors or the person themselves. But great leaders know that looking inward is just as crucial. We must ask ourselves, “What am I doing that might be holding this person back?”

It’s a balancing act – looking both inward and outward to uncover the sources of underperformance. Assuming what’s wrong won’t lead us to the real answers. Instead, we need to ask the right questions during one-on-one meetings with the employee.

So, what questions should we be asking? Here are 14 to consider:

  • Is it clear what needs to get done? How can I make the goals or expectations clearer?
  • Is the level of quality required for this work clear? Can I provide examples to clarify?
  • Am I being respectful of the time you have to accomplish tasks? Can I do better in protecting your time?
  • Do you feel set up to fail in any way? Are my expectations realistic?
  • Do you have the necessary tools and resources to do their job well?
  • Have I provided enough context about why this work is important?
  • Are there any aspects of my management style that irk or rub them the wrong way?
  • How do you feel about their own performance? Where do you see opportunities to improve?
  • What parts of your work are inspiring and motivating?
  • Where do you feel stuck, and how can I help you overcome those challenges?
  • Are there tasks you find boring or are ambivalent about?
  • When was the last time you connected with a customer who benefited from you work?
  • Do they feel they are playing to their strengths in their role?
  • How do they feel about the company’s future – optimistic, pessimistic, or somewhere in between?

By asking these questions, we create an open and understanding environment. The goal is not to accuse but to encourage positive change and improvement. Ultimately, we want to support our team members and help them reach their full potential.

So, fellow leaders, let’s lead with empathy and ask the right questions. Together, we can build a stronger, more successful team and foster a culture of growth and achievement. Let’s tackle underperformance head-on and watch our business flourish!

If you need any support or HR services in this process, feel free to reach out to us at info@snk.ae or +971 4 458 1449.

We’re here to help you and your business thrive!