How to Motivate an Employee After a Poor Performance Review Use it as an opportunity to inspire a professional turnaround for your employee.

By Entrepreneur Europe Staff Originally published

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When an employee is underperforming, you have options beyond firing them – which is notoriously difficult in the European Union, where workers have stringent protections against being fired for unjust reasons – but your path forward can still be rocky. When handled incorrectly, a negative performance review can further demoralize a worker, impacting output even more.

Productivity is vital, not only for your business, but for the European Union overall, according to the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, as the aging workforce in the region is particularly susceptible to issues that impact productivity. If someone on your team is underperforming, you need to motivate them. Here's what to do following a negative review.

Outline next steps in the review.

Be prepared, with documentation and other resources, when you discuss a poor performance with an employee during their review, which should be a formal, sit-down event. Spend part, but not all, of the meeting addressing the issues, but leave time to go over next steps. Create a plan with the employee bit by bit so you can fix the problems together.

It's key to remind them they are not alone and are part of a team that wants to help them succeed. Creating a plan together reinforces this idea and stops them from feeling isolated.

Follow up.

Periodically, check in on the progress of the plan. Leaving the employee to correct their course entirely on their own can further demoralize them, whereas continually making it clear that you are a resource for them will help them feel supported. Offer honest feedback and critique on their progress and do not flinch away from being forthright; no one stands to gain from a lack of communication and teamwork here.

Use a human approach.

Without being a pushover, endeavor to understand the root cause of the poor performance. During the review or subsequent check-ins, ask questions to find out more about the employee's motivators, job satisfaction, and any circumstances that may be impacting their work. Not only would finding out that they experienced a death in the family, for instance, better explain why they did poorly last quarter, but it can help you feel assured they will eventually get back on track.

Moreover, not every worker is the same: Everyone has different motivators and goals, so identifying what pushes this employee forward and what holds them back can help you better strategize a way forward. Getting to know them and their work habits will make them feel valued and will go a long way toward motivation.

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