How to turn low performers into your best - from coaching to coffee breaks

Business Insights

At times your staff may be performing at a lower standard than you expect.

From missing deadlines or having no enthusiasm for their work, this can have a huge impact on your business.

However, according to Sophie from Ordinarily Different you can actually turn this around! Sophie shares her 7 tips to turn those low performers into your best - from coaching to coffee breaks.

  1. Give regular meaningful feedback

While an appraisal process and 1:1 meetings can be useful, this shouldn’t be the only way you give feedback. People need meaningful feedback, and it’s only meaningful when it’s timely and relevant. Your job as a manager is to help your staff become the best they can be, so don’t always wait to address performance, talk to your staff in the moment.

  1. Be curious and coach

Try to get to the bottom of why your staff aren’t performing well. Explore what and why an issue happened, then coach your staff on what they could’ve done differently, asking them for feedback on what you could do as well. Staff that can reflect on their own performance are more likely to take on board any measures or feedback you might have later on.

  1. Play to strengths

Instead of addressing weaknesses and pushing for constant improvement, focus on your staff's strengths - this can increase performance by 36%! If someone isn’t good at a certain element of their job, find what they are good at and play to it. We can’t all be good at everything, so define and support your team by their strengths, not their weaknesses.

  1. Give autonomy

It might seem counter-productive, but underperforming staff can actually benefit from more independence. Their performance might be hindered by restrictive standards, allowing no creative interpretation, so give them increased flexibility and autonomy and see how they perform - often people work better when trusted to be independent.

  1. Offer meaningful learning

Find opportunities that will best help your individual staff learn and grow, whether this is a course, coaching session, shadowing other teams, or even a TED Talk - we live in a knowledge-rich world with much available for free, so invest some time figuring out the best avenues of development for your staff.

  1. Seek to understand the whole person

Sometimes a person’s low performance could be to do with their personal lives, so being understanding, empathetic and compassionate can go a long way in helping your staff. Make sure your staff are aware of and use Employee Assistance Programmes, helplines or specific staff when needed, but simply offering them a coffee and asking them if they are ok can make a huge difference.

  1. Pay attention to measuring values, behaviour and attitude

Ensure the people you hire align with your values and attitudes as closely as possible. Having to constantly remind staff to stick to these standards, even if they’re performing well, is a waste of time and resources and can cause long-term damage.


ORDINARILY DIFFERENT is an organisational development consultancy wanting to put the WOW back into work by helping organisations grow and evolve, through the power of people.