Managing an Underperformer Who Thinks They’re Doing Great

This article originally appeared on hbr.org.

Almost every leader has been in the uncomfortable position of managing someone who thinks their performance is terrific when it’s actually just adequate, or worse. In fact, in my 30 years of consulting, it’s been one of the more frequent — and draining — performance problems I’ve observed.

What causes the mismatch between these employees’ real output and their perceptions of success? Some may not be receiving the resources and clear feedback they need to develop and improve; others may be unable to recognize that they’re struggling. Whatever the cause, if leaders fail to address the situation, the lagging employee’s work will not improve, and the organization will lose the value of a team member who could thrive if given the proper support. Perhaps a more insidious risk is that the leader will appear to condone substandard work, and competent employees may become demotivated and disengage. But if you can identify the likely cause of an underperformer’s lack of self-awareness, these five approaches will help you correct the problem behaviors — or understand whether that’s even possible.

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Onward and upward —

LK

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