How To Deal With Poor Workers In The Workplace

We have all worked on projects where we have encountered poor workers. We generally define a poor worker as someone whose performance is substandard; however, there are varying degrees of “poorness.”

Consider the following two situations:

  • Situation #1: The worker’s performance is below standards but only affects the individual. The project can live with the worker’s performance even though it is less than desired.
  • Situation #2: The worker’s performance is below standards and is affecting the entire team’s morale. There is a chance that the project may fail if the trend continues and their performance does not improve.

Project staffing is usually done by the functional managers. Therefore, in both situations, I would talk to the functional managers first to see if the worker is truly inept or just suffering from a lack of motivation. Companies do not maintain inept workers for very long, and the line manager may know what’s bothering the worker.  Since the line manager normally has wage and salary responsibility, they may also be able to take corrective measures, or reassign the worker to a less critical task.

If Situation #2 appears, then you may have to take additional actions, such as:

  •  Tell the worker that if their performance does not improve within a given time period, you will work with the line manager and take whatever disciplinary actions are necessary. You are giving them a chance for recovery.
  • If the performance does not improve within the given time period, then provide the worker with an on-the-spot performance review and see to it that the functional manager receives a copy.
  • Remove the worker from the project team. If you do not have the authority to do so by yourself, then it may be necessary to ask your sponsor for help.

Obviously, there are other issues that can cause poor work performance and there are other ways to handle the situation; this is just one option.

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