How To Encourage Underperforming Employees As Leaders

As great leaders who work at the forefront of their companies to reach organisational goals, it is important to encourage your colleagues to share the same vision with you so that productivity can be easily achieved. 

At some point of time through your career, you may chance upon unmotivated employees, or those who may suddenly not be working up to their usual standards of work. Some could even have completely lost interest in their field of work too. 

How can you as a leader then, encourage underperforming employees with your leadership skills? Read on to find out some ways you can create an impact in your organisation. 

Establish Realistic Expectations

One particular way leaders can take the first step to encourage underperforming employees is by establishing your expectations of them. According to an article published by, if employees are new to the role, they may need clear goals and guidelines as to how they should perform. 

Being specific and clear with your expectations on projects is one way to go about dealing with this issue. Guiding them through their first task could be one way to demonstrate your expectations of them. 

Sharing strategies, plans, possible rewards and other information regarding the project can help to enlighten employees of their function in the work process and motivate your colleagues to move forward. As such, setting expectations is one way that great leaders can encourage their underperforming employees. 

Remind Them Of The Big Picture

In the midst of numerous projects, timelines and immense stress, employees can easily lose sight of the big picture. When employees are not able to understand their function within a team, it could lead to “potential challenges including lack of employee engagement, reduced productivity, poor levels of customer services” amongst other problems. 

Reminding employees of the big picture allows them to see how they are part of a chain reaction. It can also highlight that they are part of a team that has common goals to work towards. This could consequently lead them to find their motivation again. 

Explaining to coworkers how their performance, promotional opportunities, credibility and reputation amongst other factors can be affected should also help them better gauge the direction they want to take their professional lives towards. 

As such, leaders can easily encourage underperforming employees by highlighting the impacts their actions can have on both the team as well as themselves. 

Check In And Recognise Efforts

One of the ways to encourage underperforming employees is to simply check in with them. Collaborate with your coworkers to set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-framed) goals. This will allow employees to identify check-posts and stay committed to their work process. 

An article published by CareerBuilders suggests keeping up with employees’ progress and acknowledging their positive engagement. Appreciate colleagues’ efforts by recognising their continued progress. More often than not, a simple mention of ‘thank you’ or ‘well done’ goes a long way in reassuring these individuals. 

Provide constructive feedback and be prepared to listen to the problems they may be facing. Offer viable solutions and extend your assistance. Arranging a follow up system is something that your employees will appreciate as it can significantly boost a company’s culture and morale. 

As such, creating systems to check in with your colleagues and recognising their efforts is also another way leaders can encourage underperforming employees within their organisations. 


Addressing issues of declining performances as leaders can feel intimidating and complicated. However, setting expectations, reminding colleagues of the bigger picture as well as checking in and recognising efforts are just a few ways to encourage underperforming employees with your leadership skills within an organisation. 


StrengthsAsia has helped many individual and corporate clients all throughout the region in empowering leaders by enabling breakthrough experiences for both leaders and followers. If you want to learn more about the Strengths Leadership Program, feel free to reach out to us here.

Reshma is StrengthsAsia’s content writer and research contributor. She enjoys spending her time writing anything from poems to screenplays, and everything in between. She also finds joy in reading novels, baking and catching movies with her family. Participating in creative activities helps her find inspiration and new ideas for her work.

Aly is StrengthsAsia’s marketing and communications guru and lead editor. She's over the top inquisitive and everyone in the company knows her as “The Googler” as she practically googles everything. Honestly, we all worry for her… She is also the Principal Trainer for our one of a kind ice cream team building workshops in Asia.

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