skip to Main Content

Business Recovery

Managing Underperformance in a Startup

Startups require passion and cohesion to make an impact in crowded markets. Normally, employees are driven and enthusiastic about the project, but sometimes, there will be an individual that isn’t living up to expectations. These situations can be tricky to handle, but there’s every reason to be optimistic with the right approach and the right attitude. 

Informal Conversation 

If an employee in your small team is underperforming, it affects the quality of work and the company’s reputation. This is even more important when it’s a startup, and you’re trying to grow the company’s reputation – informal conversations are the best place to start. 

Don’t assume that the underperformance is due to attitude issues. Explore all the alternatives and attempt to keep the blame away from the employee’s door – at least at first. Try to understand the reasons they are underperforming and provide some friendly advice.   

Support Strategies

The goal of informal conversations and performance reviews is not to shame employees but to raise their performance levels so they can contribute to the company goals successfully. That is why it’s important to offer as much support as possible; support can take various forms. 

Employees might require some additional training – you can ask them if they feel this is the case. Additional training will either update their skills or consolidate existing skills. Another strategy is to allow them to shadow a colleague for part of the day to level up their abilities.  

Performance Reviews 

Performance reviews are an important feature of employee engagement and performance enhancement. In the past, performance reviews were carried out once or twice a year, but this has become an obsolete strategy in recent times – regular reviews are much more effective. 

Even if you operate a small team, Performance management strategies are vital for the success of your business. Carry out these reviews weekly or monthly, focussing on things employees do well and where they can improve. Performance reviews should be integrated into every day.  

Decisions and Sanctions 

There comes a time when informal conversations and performance reviews have failed, and you’re dealing with a dis-engagement employee who is underperforming. If this is the case, it’s time for decisions and sanctions to raise their performance before ending their contract. 

The good news is there are plenty of ways to improve performance levels in this situation and salvage useful employees from the brink of dismissal. First, in collaboration with the employee, create a plan of action that both parties are happy with – ensure they understand the stakes.    

Warning Systems 

It isn’t easy to handle underperforming employees when you operate a small team in a startup business. There is a need for personalization and passion within the team, so underperforming staff needs to be carefully handled. One excellent way of doing this is with warning systems. 

A warning system could be a points system, a bit like the points you receive on your driver’s license. When employees accrue a certain number of points, they might be dismissed by the startup. This system takes responsibility for performance out of the manager’s hands.  



We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By agreeing you accept the use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.

Back To Top