What to do if someone in your team isn’t performing

Many business owners struggle with managing staffing issues.

In this episode, I share some strategies to help you know whether someone is the right fit for your business, how to navigate through a performance issue with a team member, and how to make the decision and end a working relationship in a positive way.

In this Episode:
02.55: How do you deal with an under-performing team member
04.57: How to terminate someone that isn’t the right fit
07.28: How to give feedback in a proactive way




One of the most common challenges my clients talk to me about is team. And how to lead and manage staff, whether that is employees or contractors that you are employing on a casual basis. Today I want to share with you some of the exact strategies I use with my coaching clients, to help you know whether someone is the right fit for you business, how to navigate through a performance issue with a team member, and when to recognise when a staff member or contractor is not a good fit and how to make the decision and end the working relationship in a positive way.


You’re listening to the Clare Wood podcast, where we talk all things business, finance, marketing, and mindset for entrepreneurs, sharing practical tips, and actionable advice to help you take your business to the next level. Introducing your host: me! I’m Clare Wood, I’m a numbers geek, a travel lover, and a reality tv addict, and I’m here to empower you to create an extraordinary business and an amazing life, because I believe you don’t have to choose between the two. Now let’s dive right in to today’s episode.


Before we get into today’s episode, I wanted to let you know about one of the freebies I have on my website. It is not at all related to today’s podcast, but it has been getting heaps of downloads recently. I’m getting such great feedback about how practical it is, and how well the strategies work so I wanted to share it with you if you don’t already have a copy of it. It’s called ‘The Ultimate Instagram Growth Checklist’. You will know, Instagram is my favourite platform, so make sure you say hi @clare_wood_coach. When it comes to Instagram, your engagement metric is far more important than your number of followers. So, this checklist is about ways to authentically grow your Instagram engagement and attract your dream clients. I’ve also included a bonus of a bunch of Instagram story ideas. If you haven’t seen it yet, make sure you have a look in today’s shownotes for a link.


Let’s get back to talking about team.


How do you deal with an under-performing team member?


The first question I always ask is, is this person the right fit for your business? If someone is fundamentally not the right fit for the job, then realistically there is no point trying to coach them through.


So how do you know they are the right fit? Firstly, I ask if you were to rate their performance in their role, what would you give your staff member out of 10? Sometimes, just by answering this question, the answer is obvious. If you straight away think they are a 2/10 then they probably aren’t the right person, unless they are going through a temporary situation or circumstance which is impacting their performance, and otherwise a high performer. But if they are consistently an under performer, then it might be time to move them along.


The next question I ask is, are they coachable? This is sometimes more important than the first question, because skills are teachable, but attitude is not. If you have someone, that is an 8/10 performer, but won’t take on feedback to be a 10/10 performer, then you are pretty stuck. Perhaps your staff member or contractor is a bit arrogant, or they won’t accept that they need to improve, and you know they won’t take on feedback. Or maybe you know from experience that you tell this person the same thing again and again and the just don’t seem to change. This is why this question, are they coachable, is so important.


I said it lightly before, maybe they aren’t the right fit, so let me get a little clearer with this.


How to terminate someone that isn’t the right fit?


The success of your business depends on the performance of your team. As a small business owner, you need to have a high performing team. This doesn’t mean you have to have a bunch of robots or everyone needs to be the same, in fact, a diverse team is a really powerful asset to your business, but it does mean you do need to have the right people inside your business. Quite simply, if someone isn’t right, then they shouldn’t be in their business. I can’t tell you how many times I have been through this with clients of mine and we’ve identified that someone isn’t the right fit and they have terminated that employee or contractor, and then they say they feel like a massive weight has been lifted from their shoulders. It can be like ending a bad relationship. Especially if someone is permanent staff member I absolutely recognise that termination aren’t that simple. I strongly recommend you seek professional HR advice if you are considering terminating someone, and that you make sure you are doing it properly. I also know that making decisions can be really emotionally, both for the employee and employer, and again I suggest they are done with the support and advice of a professional in this area. With contractors, there may be less legal considerations and the conversation may be easier, as often contractors are paid a premium as their work is not guaranteed. But regardless, when having these conversations it’s essential that you comply with legal regulations and handle them in a sensitive and caring matter.


So if you have found someone that is the right fit, and are coachable, but there are a few little things that need to be ironed out, then the next step can also prove challenging. This is the coaching part. Some people avoid tough conversations, but they are critical and necessary part of business life. So how do you give feedback in a kind, caring, proactive and results-focused way?


How do you give feedback in a proactive way?


Here’s my advice:

  1. Praise in public and give feedback in private. Give lots of praise to your employees and contractors and always recognise the wonderful things they do. If you need to give feedback that is not so good, make sure you do it quietly and confidentially.
  2. Be firm but fair. This is not a time to project unrealisticexpectations onto staff, after all we are all human and everyone makes mistakes. But, it is really important you show how you important this feedback is and why it’s imperative to the success of your business.
  3. Be specific and say ‘why’ it’s important. There is nothing helpful or valuable about providing vague feedback. You need to give specific examples. Rather than saying your writing needs to improve, you can say, I have noticed when you email clients that it’s often they have spelling and grammatical errors and this might make our clients feel we are not very professional, so it’s really important we run a spellcheck before sending external emails.
  4. Talk about the issue, not the person. Rather than saying you aren’t confident in meetings, which feels very personal and a bit like an attack, you can say I would love to see you speak up more often and demonstrate to the rest of the group your expertise in this space.
  5. Demonstrate what success looks like. This could be, success to me looks like to me that there are very infrequent spelling mistakes in any external emails. We want to make sure your team is super clear about your expectations and know exactly what success looks like.
  6. Revisit the situation in a specified timeframe in the future and assess how they are progressing. Either provide feedback or acknowledge and praise their progress.


Something else to consider is, that your dream team can and will evolve overtime. Someone that was a perfect fit at one time, may not continue to be forever. Some team members will grow with your business and some will not.


It’s ok to make tough staffing decisions for your business. In fact, your success and longevity depends on it. You can choose to navigate through challenging situations with staff with integrity and kindness.


To sum up today, if you are having an issue, first of all decide if they are the right fit for your business. If you have identified that they are the right fit and are coachable, you need to have some brave conversations and provide some feedback in a kind and caring yet proactive and direct way and that it’s really important to loop back in and see how they are progressing.  


Building your dream team and managing them effectively is critical to your business success. Leading a team isn’t always easy but it can be incredibly rewarding and the results of a thriving team can be transformational to your business.

Lastly, I’d love to ask for your help. If you are regular listener, I’d love to know what you’d like to learn about, any topics you’d like me to speak on. Reach out and let me know on Instagram (@clare_wood_coach) or send me an email through my website www.clarewood.com.au.


I’d love to know because my next episode is number 50, and it feels so surreal to create so many episodes for you, and I’m super appreciative of all of you that tune in. Thank you. I look forward creating episodes not and into the future. Have a great day!


Thank you so much for joining me today, if you enjoyed this episode, please make sure you subscribe to receive future episodes, and I’d be so grateful for a review on apple podcast! If you’d like a copy of the show notes or any of the links mentioned today, please jump over to clarewood.com.au/podcast and remember that Clare is spelled CLARE, have a wonderful week and look forward to chatting to you again soon!


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