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Managing Your Underperforming Team Members

Managing underperforming team members is a multifaceted task that starts with a deep understanding of the underlying causes, requires consistent monitoring, and is addressed via effective support strategies. Undertaking performance management proactively and empathetically can transform an underperformer into a valuable asset for your club.

Understanding the Sources of Poor Performance

The first step in managing underperforming team members is understanding why they are not meeting expectations. There are several potential sources of poor performance:

  1. Sometimes, a team member may not have the necessary resources to perform effectively. This could include access to information, tools, or support from colleagues. Ensuring your people have what they need is the foundation for any performance improvement strategy.

  2. A lack of relevant skills can significantly impact performance. This is particularly relevant in clubs that are going through changes, and operational areas where technology and processes evolve quickly. Providing training and development opportunities can help bridge the skills gap.

  3. It is essential to consider whether the job design suits the team member’s strengths and abilities. Sometimes, minor adjustments to their role can lead to significant improvements in performance. This might involve reallocating an individual’s tasks or adjusting their responsibilities to better align with their capabilities.

  4. If a team member is not a good fit for their current role, they might excel in a different position within the club. Reassigning them can be a positive solution, allowing the team member to contribute more effectively in a role that suits their skills and interests.

As a last resort, if none of the other strategies work, it may be necessary to let the employee go. This should be done following your club’s organisational policies and legal guidelines to ensure fairness and avoid potential conflicts.

Monitoring Underperformers

Once you’ve recognised and started to understand the potential causes of underperformance, consistent and effective monitoring is crucial. This involves regular check-ins, feedback sessions, and performance reviews. Here are some key strategies for monitoring underperformance:

  1. Scheduled vs. Awareness: Balance scheduled performance reviews with ongoing awareness of the team member’s work. Regular, informal check-ins can provide timely feedback and support.

  2. Frequent Conversations: Maintain open lines of communication. Frequent, constructive conversations about performance help to address issues promptly and provide ongoing support.

  3. Document Everything: Keep detailed records of performance issues, feedback provided, and actions taken. Documentation is crucial for tracking progress and supporting decisions if further action, such as reassignment or termination, becomes necessary.

  4. Get Input from Others: Seek feedback from colleagues, other team members, and managers who interact with the underperformer. This can provide a more comprehensive view of the team member’s performance and areas needing improvement.

Supporting Underperformers to Improve

Supporting underperforming staff is about providing them with the tools, guidance, and encouragement they need to succeed. Here are some effective support strategies:

  1. Coaching: Provide job-specific coaching to help the employee improve their skills and performance. Coaching should be tailored to the individual's needs and focus on practical, actionable steps they can take to improve.

  2. Training: Offer training programs to address skill gaps. This could include formal courses, workshops, or on-the-job training. According to studies, combining training with ongoing coaching significantly boosts productivity.

  3. Counselling: Sometimes, personal issues can impact an employee's performance. Offering access to counselling services or an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can help employees manage personal challenges that might be affecting their work.

  4. Creating a Supportive Environment: Foster a positive work environment that encourages improvement. Recognise and reward progress, provide constructive feedback, and ensure employees feel valued and supported.

  5. Formal Support Processes: Implement formal support processes such as Performance Development Plans (PDPs) that outline clear expectations, goals, and timelines for improvement. These plans should be documented and regularly reviewed.


Managing underperforming staff requires a balanced approach that includes understanding the root causes of poor performance, consistent monitoring, and providing robust support mechanisms. By applying the above strategies, managers can help underperforming employees improve their performance and contribute more effectively to your club. This not only benefits the individual employees but also enhances overall team productivity and morale.


To assist Club Managers develop and/or maintain their leadership and management skills, elevateB, in partnership with the CMAA offers the following:-


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