At WiseGEEK, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.
Poor job performance can be the result of inadequate preparation or skills, an unpleasant working environment, bad supervision, or lack of motivation. Determining the causes in a specific case can be important for addressing it. In the event termination is required, an awareness of the causes is also important, as a termination for cause must have clear justifications. Employers may also want to protect themselves from accusations of discrimination; for example, in many nations, making employment decisions on the basis of skin color is not legal.
One reason for poor job performance can be the inability to do the work. An employee may not be qualified, or could have overstated proficiencies when applying to do the job. The lack of preparation can be a particular issue in a workplace where a long-term employee is replaced. The new employee may not be able to perform the same number of tasks at the same level, because the job description and expectations are based on a skilled employee’s work over the course of years or decades.
Another issue can be a lack of understanding about expectations, or not being able to do work because the employee does not know how. This can be the result of poor communication in training and manuals, or bad supervision. Employees who do not ask for help, or who request assistance and do not receive it, cannot access the tools they need to learn their jobs. In this case, an employee interview may reveal that an employee is able and willing to work, and just needs training.
Bad working conditions can contribute to poor job performance. Employees who feel harassed, unsafe, or bored may not want to do work and could avoid many tasks, especially if they involve contact with unpleasant coworkers. Workplaces that do not pay attention to employee morale may experience declines in productivity as employees lose interest in their work because of the conditions.
Lack of motivation can also be an issue with poor job performance. Overqualified employees may get frustrated with simple assignments, for instance, while others may not feel appreciated or could observe other employees slacking off and decide they do not need to work as hard. Employees may not feel motivated if they feel temporary, do not have a strong connection with the company, or are unclear on their goals.
Warning an employee about poor job performance in an evaluation provides an opportunity to find out more about why the employee isn’t working out. It also creates the start of a paper trail that may be legally necessary in the event of an employee termination. Supervisors and employees can set goals for improvement at such meetings to establish a method for assessing progress and create clear expectations for all parties.