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Underperforming Staff? Try These Seven Training Strategies

Updated: Nov 23, 2022

There are various reasons why an employee may be underperforming - confidence, lack of skill, personal issues, the list goes on. Regardless of the reason, it's important to address the underperformance as soon as you notice it. Not only could the employee be unaware of the issue, but it also sets a precedent and impacts the rest of the team.

If you have underperforming staff, try these seven training strategies to keep all staff performing well:

1. New Staff

The key is to set a proper foundation with all new employees. If you already have a training and onboarding plan for new staff and it's not sticking, reflect on why. Does training need to be automated? Does it address the organization's vision in addition to the role expectations? Train all new employees well so they understand expectations right from the beginning.

2. One-on-One Support

It's important to meet individually with staff regularly, but especially as soon as you notice a change to determine and address the root cause of the performance issues. You can talk to them about their workload, their performance, and provide constructive feedback on the areas they're struggling with. Be clear about expectations and offer additional training if it's appropriate. Another factor to take into consideration is job fit. If a staff feels as though they are not in the right role, consider cross training, allowing the staff to take on new projects, or a shift in role entirely.

We also have to remember that employees are people outside of work, so an employee alluding to personal challenges must be treated with empathy and understanding, as well as a mutually agreed upon timeline for getting them back on track and a discussion on a healthy work-life balance.

3. Accessible & Engaging Training

Be sure that training provided to staff is engaging and delivered in a way that will stick. Adapt your training offerings to online and interactive. There are other trends in training that can help with this, such as gamification ( is one option). Keep in mind also that not everyone has the same training needs, so make sure it's personalized, on-demand, and appeals to different learning styles.

Having training accessible is very important. This includes understanding any barriers to training a participant may have, such as low vision, a learning disability, or a language barrier for example. Provide participants with the means to confidentially disclose any barriers to training and accommodations required to ensure all staff have an equal opportunity to participate. We can't assume that everyone learns in the same way and at the same pace.

4. Cost

Think about this - what's more costly: hiring a new person and having them quit after a few months then having to replace them, or giving your staff training during their paid workday to learn some cool new things that might even save the company money? It's important to understand the benefits of well-trained staff like a boost in morale & productivity, as well as the cost of staff turnover.

5. Continuous Education

Companies, roles, economies, and labour markets change. It's vital to provide opportunities for employees to grow, be innovative, and gain new skills while adapting to these changes. You can provide individual staff with training, or an entire group or department, however continuous education and training should be offered on an ongoing basis, not only in times of underperformance.

6. Evaluation

Like everything else, you won't know how effective something is without an evaluation. There are several ways to determine effectiveness, from gathering training feedback, surveying staff on training needs, and gaining an understanding of your staff's preferences & need for day-to-day guidance and direction. If there are ongoing training issues and multiple staff voicing a need for skills upgrading, it may be time to completely reevaluate how staff are being trained. If the staff's need for training is related to confidence, then being more hands-on or doing more check-ins with your team may be necessary. Regardless, always adapt as necessary when receiving feedback and an evaluation.


7. Mentorship

While technically not a training strategy per se, providing staff with the opportunity to connect with a more senior staff can have many benefits. It allows the staff to voice concerns in a safe environment, and the Mentor can provide encouragement and support to an underperforming staff. Having a trusted person to talk to can often increase confidence, thus impacting their job performance.

Remember to always be transparent, have open communication, and be clear about expectations. Don't forget to reward and acknowledge improvement.

Have you used any of these training strategies for underperforming staff? I would love to hear about it in the comments below!


Hi, I'm Samantha, an Inclusive Leadership Coach that is eager to support you with breaking free & living a limitless authentic life after being pushed aside in society. Think of it as solution focused Coaching with a social justice twist. Whatever you want to work on, leadership or otherwise, you'll transform your life and experience shifts you never thought possible.

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