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Is an underperformer dragging down morale?

Is morale low? Is there a substandard job performer in your company? If so, your other employees may be his/her silent hostages.

Spot the underperformer

Paul Falcone, an HR executive who has written on the subject of progressive discipline and termination, points out that managers need to review the situation where and with whom the lackluster employee works. Have there been:

• veiled threats, hints at involving an attorney, or common knowledge that this employee is keeping a record of perceived offenses experienced at the hands of co-workers or supervisors?

• complaints from the employee about others’ conduct when the real issue is his/her performance?

• co-workers and supervisors avoiding work with the individual?

• complaints from the individual that the staff avoids him/her, or that they are being kept from opportunities to excel? This claim may be linked with a charge of discrimination, a very common claim from a lackluster performer with a negative attitude.

Prevent and Protect

EctoHR, Inc. and Falcone advise certain basic steps a company can take to regain control from an aggressive sub-performer:

• The immediate supervisor, department head, and the HR representative must conduct an investigation into the cause for the team’s low morale.

• Meet with all employees individually, including the substandard performer, to document all grievances and allegations. Avoid leading the employee or asking them to guess “what is wrong”. Ask them to provide specific concerns or behaviors.

• Follow up, if necessary, with individual meetings to clarify information.

• Meet with managers and supervisors to discuss documented grievances and allegations. Reset managers’ expectations.

• Conduct a group meeting with all employees and managers. Focus on how to correct the identified problem(s). Clarify job expectations and give everyone a fresh start.

Put it in writing

The results of the investigation can include letters of clarification for each employee to recap managers’ expectation. This puts a written record in place for the company and employees. If the lackluster employee needs formal corrective action in addition to the letter of clarification, cement the company’s concerns in writing. If a lawsuit is the troublesome employee’s next move, you have documentation to back up your company’s stand.

Contact EctoHR, Inc.

Is morale sliding downward in your company? Could it be a troublesome employee? EctoHR, Inc. can help! Contact an EctoHR team member at 810.534.0170, or shoot them an email at

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