Promoted Employee Underperforming?

Written by Julia

On January 29, 2020

You’ve been noticing all the hard work an employee has put into their job, and skills they have developed – and you feel like it’s finally time for a promotion. You feel as if the employee has earned this promotion, an increase in salary, and a title change.
Following the employee’s promotion, things take a turn for the worse. The employee isn’t performing as well as before, complaints start from their colleagues, and their overall performance falls. You can’t help but feel that you’ve made a mistake. Regret starts sneaking in, and you start questioning your judgment. What do you do now?
All hope isn’t lost! Take these 4 steps to turn things around.

1. Make a list

Create a list of what is not working and what has changed with the employee, therefore, when you sit the employee down you are prepared and have your thoughts in place. You want to be specific.
Include these questions in your list:

  1. Give examples of what has disappointed you about their work.
  2. What specific tasks did they deliver underqualified?
  3. What has changed about their work?
  4. What are they doing wrong or not doing correctly?

Creating a list will help you when you sit the employee down and can discuss what needs to be changed. Usually, there are recurring important issues you want to discuss- make sure you jot them all down as you will be prepared and won’t lose your train of thought (as this will help you with what will be a difficult conversation).
As you’re creating the list you will start to notice the patterns and where the core of the problem lies. Think about how it doesn’t match the company’s values and address that issue with them as well. This will help your underperforming, promoted employee to see where they can improve and how to match the company’s
Tip: The faster you sit down with the employee the better. Don’t expect anything to change if you don’t address the problem right away. Make sure to sit down with them alone.

2. Create the next steps

Discussing the issue, and explaining to the employee what needs to be fixed is a great first step toward change. However, in order for that change to happen- a plan needs to be set. Generating the next steps is crucial for change, and for improvement in performance.
Create a plan first on the steps you expect the employee to take to change. Bring this up in the 1-on-1 meeting. When coming to an understanding of the issues together, create the next steps toward improvements together.
After discussing the plans for improvement, make sure to email this to them as an agreement. Work with them- show them you care and want to make this work, and let them know you are there if they need you for support. It’s also a good idea to meet with them once a week to discuss improvements and the areas they are still lacking in. Never underestimate the power of praise as their work improves- make sure to tell them!

3. Help them transition

One reason a promoted employee is underperforming could be that they need training or help to transition into their new position. Perhaps they never had that much experience in that specific position. If you promoted them to a position such as a manager or head of a department, they can be underperforming as they never managed a large number of people although they excel as an individual contributor. Sometimes, all they need is just a little push.

4. The outcome

One of the two can happen. Either, everything goes well or nothing changes. If the promoted employee gets better and lives up to the expectations, then great! You did your job. In the case this didn’t happen, you may take this employee to HR with evidence to discuss further plans, termination, or whatever path you have chosen for the employee.

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1 Comment

  1. David

    This is why lots of companies use a mentor to train and guide the rookies. Its really effective.


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