100 Questions to Ask an Underperforming Employee

When employees underperform, it’s a challenge for any manager. Yet, in the heart of such challenges lie opportunities for growth, understanding, and improved communication. The right questions can unlock the door to potential solutions and pathways for development.

By approaching the conversation with empathy and a genuine desire to support your team members, you establish a collaborative environment where problems can progress. Let’s explore some of the questions that can help turn the tide on underperformance and lead to constructive outcomes.

Understanding the Employee’s Perspective

  1. Can you describe the challenges you’re facing in your role?
  2. Have there been any recent changes in your duties that have impacted your performance?
  3. How do you feel about the feedback you have received on your work?
  4. Are there any personal issues that might be affecting your job performance?
  5. What motivates you at work, and are you getting enough of this motivation?
  6. Do you feel that your efforts are recognized and appreciated?
  7. In your opinion, what factors contribute to your current performance level?
  8. How do you perceive your role within the team or company?
  9. Are there any suggestions you have that could help improve your productivity?
  10. Do you feel confident in understanding the expectations set for your role?
  11. How has communication been with your superiors and team members?
  12. Are the goals and milestones clear to you?
  13. Can you identify any specific instances or tasks where you feel you underperformed?
  14. How do you typically approach a challenge or task that you find difficult?
  15. Is there feedback that you’ve received in the past that you felt was particularly helpful or unhelpful?
  16. How do you prioritize your work, and do you face difficulties in doing so?
  17. Do you feel that your job roles align well with your professional skills and interests?
  18. Are there any training or development opportunities that you think could help you perform better?
  19. What part of your job do you feel most confident about?
  20. How open would you be to receiving additional mentoring or coaching?

Assessing Work Environment and Resources

  1. Do you have the resources and tools you need to do your job effectively?
  2. How would you rate the work environment in terms of supporting your productivity?
  3. Has there been any equipment or software issues that are hampering your work?
  4. Are the organizational systems in place helping you to complete your tasks efficiently?
  5. Do you feel that the physical workspace is adequate and comfortable?
  6. How would you describe the level of teamwork and cooperation within your department?
  7. Are there ways we can improve the work environment to help you perform better?
  8. Do you find the current workload manageable within regular working hours?
  9. Have you encountered any problems accessing necessary information or support?
  10. Are there factors within the workplace that distract you or prevent you from focusing?
  11. Do company policies support a healthy work-life balance for you?
  12. Have you experienced any barriers to completing your tasks due to office layout or scheduling?
  13. How effective is the current communication system within your team or department?
  14. Is there anything about the company culture that you find challenging or hindering your performance?
  15. How often do technical issues affect your ability to work effectively?
  16. Are there improvements in resource allocation that you believe could assist you?
  17. In terms of support, is there anything you feel is lacking from your department or from leadership?
  18. How do you feel about the level of collaboration required in your role?
  19. Do you believe improvements in technology could support your job performance?
  20. Are there any workflow processes that you think could be optimized to help your efficiency?

Evaluating Skills and Job Match

  1. Do you feel your current skills match the demands of your job?
  2. Where do you feel there are gaps in your skills or knowledge?
  3. How has your training prepared you for the tasks you struggle with?
  4. Are there areas of your role that you find more challenging than others?
  5. How aligned do you feel with the role’s core responsibilities?
  6. In what areas do you feel you excel, and where would you like to improve?
  7. Are there specific areas of your job that you are consistently finding difficult?
  8. How has the progression of your role matched with your personal career goals?
  9. Have your job responsibilities increased without corresponding training or development opportunities?
  10. Do you feel you were sufficiently oriented when you took on your current role?
  11. Are there areas where you feel additional training could aid your performance?
  12. How do you approach learning new skills or roles within the company?
  13. Are the demands of your job role clear, and do you feel you are suited to meet them?
  14. Have you identified any personal strengths that you would like to utilize more in your work?
  15. What types of assignments or projects do you feel most confident undertaking?
  16. Are there tasks you perform that don’t seem to align with your core competencies?
  17. How would you describe the match between your interests and your current job duties?
  18. Do you feel challenged in your role in a way that is productive and fosters growth?
  19. How regularly do you feel that your skills are being underutilized?
  20. Are there changes you’d suggest to align your job with your expertise better?

Setting Goals and Expectations

  1. Are you clear on the performance goals set for your role?
  2. How well do you feel you understand the expectations of your job performance?
  3. Do you feel that the goals set for you are achievable and fair?
  4. How often would you like to receive feedback on your progress toward your goals?
  5. Are there specific targets you are finding difficult to meet?
  6. How confident are you in your ability to meet the deadlines set for your tasks?
  7. Do you feel there is a gap between what is expected and what can be realistically achieved?
  8. Are the criteria for success in your role clearly defined and communicated?
  9. In setting goals, do you feel your input is considered and valued?
  10. How do you keep track of your progress and goals?
  11. Have you ever felt unsure about which tasks should take priority when setting goals?
  12. Where do you see opportunities for achieving quick wins to boost your performance?
  13. Are there goals you’ve set for yourself that you need more support to achieve?
  14. How might we make the process of setting and reviewing goals more collaborative?
  15. Do you set personal performance goals in addition to those set by management?
  16. Are the consequences of not meeting performance goals clear?
  17. How do you feel about the process of performance reviews?
  18. Do you find the goals to be motivating or too stressful?
  19. What support could leadership provide in helping you meet your goals?
  20. How could we improve the way goals and expectations are communicated?

Offering Support and Guidance

  1. What can we, as a management team, do to assist you in improving your performance?
  2. Are there specific types of support or training you feel would benefit you?
  3. How can we help you in addressing personal issues that might be affecting your work?
  4. What kind of feedback style do you find most encouraging and helpful?
  5. Do you feel comfortable seeking help when faced with a challenge?
  6. In what ways can leadership be more approachable or supportive?
  7. Would you be open to a mentorship or peer-support program?
  8. How can we foster an environment where it’s okay to make mistakes and learn from them?
  9. Are there any accommodations that might help you perform your job better?
  10. What does your ideal support system at work look like?
  11. Would you like more regular check-ins with your supervisor, or is the current frequency sufficient?
  12. How can we make our support more tailored to your individual needs?
  13. Are there administrative barriers that you need help overcoming?
  14. Would you find value in a clearer understanding of the potential career paths available to you?
  15. Do you feel that your health and well-being are taken into account in your work environment?
  16. What kind of professional development opportunities do you wish the company offered?
  17. Do you think a change in role or department would benefit your performance?
  18. How can we assist you in better balancing your work and personal life?
  19. What can we do to build a stronger sense of trust and open communication?
  20. Would you appreciate a structured plan with milestones to help guide your performance improvements?

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I assess if workplace resources are affecting an employee’s performance?

  • Look into whether they have the necessary tools and resources to do their job, if technical issues are recurring, and if the workspace is conducive to productivity.
  • Evaluate the impact of company culture, communication systems, and the work environment on their ability to perform efficiently.

What should I consider when evaluating an employee’s skills and job match?

  • Question the alignment of the employee’s skills with their job description and inquire about areas where they feel more or less competent.
  • Discuss potential skill gaps and areas of difficulty in their role, as well as any need for further training.
  • Explore their career goals and how they match with their current responsibilities.

How do I set clear goals and expectations for an underperforming employee?

  • Ensure clarity by reviewing the goals for their role and discussing expectations. Ask them about goal-setting practices and how they track progress.
  • Talk about the achievability of these goals, how success is measured, and any obstacles they’re facing.

What kind of support can I offer to an underperforming employee?

  • Offer specific support by understanding their preferred feedback style and determining any training or mentorship opportunities that could help.
  • Engage in dialogue about their ideal support system at work and how management can better cater to their needs for improvement.

Final Thoughts

Addressing underperformance isn’t just about identifying what’s gone wrong; it’s about fostering an environment where every employee has the chance to succeed. Through asking insightful and empathetic questions, managers can gain a deeper understanding of their team members’ experiences and challenges.

This supportive stance encourages a culture of continuous improvement and engagement. By ensuring that the lines of communication remain open and judgment-free, managers can guide their teams toward not just meeting but exceeding expectations.

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Bea is an editor and writer with a passion for literature and self-improvement. Her ability to combine these two interests enables her to write informative and thought-provoking articles that positively impact society. She enjoys reading stories and listening to music in her spare time.