Why is my employee performing poorly and how do I coach them?

If you’ve ever asked yourself, “why is my employee performing poorly?” you’re not alone. Unfortunately, many managers need help to coach their employees when they’re not meeting expectations. This blog post will discuss ten common causes of poor employee performance and how to address them. By understanding the root cause of the problem, you can take steps to correct it and improve employee productivity!

1. Lack of motivation

When employees are not motivated, they will perform poorly, so it is crucial to find out the root of the problem. There are many reasons an employee may lack motivation, and each one will require a different approach to coaching.

One common reason for lack of motivation is a lack of interest in the job. If an employee is not interested in their work, it will be difficult for them to put forth the effort required to do it well. In this case, you can find out if there is another job within the company that would be a better fit for them. You can also provide them with opportunities to learn new skills and grow their knowledge base.


Another common reason for lack of motivation is a lack of appreciation from superiors. Employees may become discouraged and less motivated to do their best when their work is not valued or appreciated. In this case, you should express your appreciation for their work and let them know how important it is to the company. You can also offer them opportunities for advancement and recognition.

A lack of challenges or opportunities for advancement can also lead to a lack of motivation. For example, if employees feel that they have reached the limits of their current role, they may become discouraged and less motivated to do their best. In this case, you can offer them new challenges and opportunities to grow their skillset. You can also promote them to a new role within the company.

2. Poor time management skills

Another common cause of poor employee performance is poor time management skills. When employees cannot manage their time effectively, they may fall behind on tasks or be unable to complete them on time. Poor time management skills can often result from distractions, such as personal phone calls, internet surfing, or simply the inability to prioritize tasks effectively.


If an employee is struggling with poor time management skills, there are a few things you can do to help them. First, you should help them create a schedule and task list that outlines what needs to be done and when it needs to be done. You can also help them prioritize tasks based on importance and urgency.

Another helpful technique is to establish specific deadlines for tasks. This will help the employee stay on track and avoid rushing to complete tasks at the last minute. Finally, you can encourage them to take daily breaks to avoid becoming overwhelmed.

3. Lack of focus

Another common issue that can lead to poor employee performance is a lack of focus. Employees who can’t focus on their work are more likely to make mistakes and have difficulty completing tasks. Several things can cause an employee to lose focus, including personal problems, fatigue, and distractions from other people or devices.


If an employee is not focused on their work, one of the best things you can do is find out why. You may need to have a conversation with the employee to get to the root of the problem. Once you know what is causing the lack of focus, you can help the employee to develop a plan to address the issue. Try to remove any distractions that may prevent the employee from focusing on their work. You can also provide them with support and encouragement to stay focused.

4. Lack of knowledge or skill

In some cases, employees may perform poorly because they lack the necessary knowledge or skill for the job. You can often remedy this with training or education, but it can also indicate a more severe problem, such as hiring someone unqualified for the position.

If an employee lacks the necessary skills or knowledge to do their job, one of the best things you can do is provide them with training. This may involve sending them to a training course or providing them with tutorials or other resources. You can also offer help and support to ensure they can learn and absorb the information.


If the employee struggles to keep up with the training, you may need to adjust the training schedule or provide additional assistance. You can also work with the employee to create a plan for improving their skills. In some cases, it may be necessary to reassign the employee to a job that is a better fit for their skills.

5. Poor communication skills

Poor communication skills can also lead to poor performance in an employee. For example, when employees cannot communicate effectively with their superiors or co-workers, it can lead to misunderstandings and miscommunication, leading to errors or incomplete tasks.

Role-playing can be an effective way to help an employee improve their communication skills. In a role-play situation, the employee can practice communicating in a realistic setting, with feedback from their coach.


When coaching an employee to improve communication skills, it is important to provide opportunities for public speaking. This can help the employee become more comfortable with communicating in a public setting. Some ways to do this include:

  • Having the employee give presentations to co-workers or superiors
  • Having the employee participate in group discussions or meetings
  • Having the employee lead or contribute to team projects

6. Conflict with co-workers

Another common cause of poor employee performance is a conflict with co-workers. Employees constantly arguing with or fighting with their co-workers can lead to distraction and decreased productivity. Additionally, employee conflict can lead to tension and negativity in the workplace, further reducing morale and productivity.

When coaching an employee through conflict with a peer, it is crucial to identify the cause first. Often, conflicts arise due to misunderstandings or differences in working styles. Other times, conflicts may result from personality clashes or competitive behaviors.


Once the root of the conflict has been identified, it is essential to talk to both employees involved and help them come to a resolution. In some cases, it may be necessary for an employee to adjust their behavior or working style to get along better with their co-workers. In other instances, co-workers may need to learn to communicate better and work more cooperatively.

If a resolution is not possible, it may be necessary for one or both employees to leave the company.

7. Stress

Stress is another common factor that can lead to poor performance in an employee. Employees under tremendous stress may have difficulty concentrating or make more mistakes than usual. Several things can cause stress in the workplace, including long hours, unrealistic deadlines, and complex projects.


When an employee is under stress, it’s important to coach them in a way that will help them manage their stress. Here are a few tips:

  • Listen to what the employee has to say and show that you understand their feelings.
  • Help the employee identify the sources of their stress and provide solutions.
  • Encourage the employee to take breaks and relax occasionally.
  • Make sure the employee has a clear understanding of their job duties and expectations.
  • Give the employee additional support when needed.

8. Poor Work Ethic

Another common cause of poor employee performance is a poor work ethic. If employees do not have a strong desire to do their job well, they will likely not put forth the effort required to succeed. You can develop a strong work ethic through training and practice.

When coaching an employee with a poor work ethic, it is essential first to understand the reasons behind their lack of motivation. Some common causes include:

  • No desire to do the job well
  • Lack of interest in the company’s mission or goals
  • Poor work/life balance

Once you have identified the reason for the employee’s poor work ethic, you can begin to coach them on how to improve. Some tips include:

  • Encouraging them to take pride in their work
  • Helping them find meaning in their work
  • Encouraging them to set realistic goals and take small steps toward achieving them
  • Helping them find a good work/life balance

9. Unclear Goals or Expectations

Employees with unclear goals or expectations will perform poorly in their roles. Employees must know what is expected of them to be successful. Therefore, goals and expectations should be communicated clearly and regularly reviewed.

When employees are unclear on their goals and expectations, it is important to coach them. You can do this by asking the employee questions such as:

  • What are your goals?
  • What are you working towards?
  • What do you need from me to help you achieve your goals?
  • What are your expectations?
    Setting goals with an employee will help them to understand better what you expect of them and help them to be more successful in their role.

10. Personal Issues

Personal issues can also cause poor performance in an employee. If an employee is dealing with personal problems, such as family issues or health problems, it may affect their ability to do their job well. Therefore, managers should provide support and resources to employees dealing with personal issues affecting their work performance.

Coaching an employee through personal issues is important to be supportive and understanding. The manager should provide resources to the employee, such as counseling or support groups, and offer assistance in dealing with a personal issue. The manager should also be available to talk to the employee if they need someone to talk to.

Employees often perform poorly for several reasons: stress, poor work ethic, unclear goals or expectations, and personal issues. Coaching employees through these problems can be difficult but is important to help them improve their performance. Managers should provide support and resources to struggling employees, such as counseling or support groups, and be available to talk to them if they need someone to talk to.


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Jason Cortel is currently the Director of Global Workforce Management for a leading technology company. He has been in customer service, marketing, and sales services for over 20 years. In addition, he has extensive experience in offshore and nearshore outsourcing. Jason is an avid Star Trek fan and is on a mission to change the universe by helping people develop professionally. He is driven to help managers and leaders lead their teams better. Jason is also a veteran in creating talent and office cultures.

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