Developing An Underperformer

So I was recently promoted to a leader of 2 teams instead of 1 and of my 6 seats I have 1 underperformer. He is not communicating with business partners and taking forever to get work done if he gets it done at all. We have had our first 1x1 and he talked about what he wants to do (not what he is doing) and his rental properties he owns and all the traveling he does. How have you failed and succeeded with getting someone moving in the right direction in the past. Any help would be appreciated.

Never been in management, but if I were the underperformer I would want a very candid conversation about what the issues were, and then a dialog about what I can do to improve. I recommend regular check-ins where you talk about progress (or lack thereof).

If the employee continues to underperform, they should be given multiple notices that they aren’t improving and they are working towards being fired.

All my unexperienced opinion of course.

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How badly do you need him?


Encourage him to spend more time developing his rental properties and travel more - and that he can do that and not be on your company’s time.

Be up front with him about the expectations and the fact that he is not meeting them. As long as you are clear in what goals he needs to meet in what timeframe and he has the resources to do it that puts the onus on him. Regular meetings to discuss progress are a big + as well.

End of the day that’s really all you can do.

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This is actuarial, I didn’t know people even could get fired without doing something egregious

I’d figure out what his expectations are. Who does he want to be?

Does he want to be a high performer who is unaware that he is not performing well? If so then you can help him figure it out. You may need to be sensitive in that case. It can be very hard to learn the story you are telling about yourself is not true.

But if he is aware and happy with the situation then things become more transactional. You both need to have a frank negotiation and figure out what you can live with.

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I know of people who got fired because they failed out of the exam system, but that’s different.

I knew an FCAS who regularly berated individuals in his department - including throwing objects, cursing and belittleing - and berated the chief actuary on multiple occasions. He never got fired for any of it, because he was the only person who understood the reserving template [because he designed it and made it so incredibly complex to follow] and the chief actuary didn’t want to take the time and have someone work through it or build something that was easier to understand.

Also knew an FCAS who got fired for sexual harrassment. Inexplicably, the boss who knew about it and tried to cover it up and gave instructions to the FCAS on how to cover it up - all of which was uncovered in the subsequent investigation, where said boss lied to HR about details - didn’t get disciplined, and was later promoted to VP. [And then left 4 months later for another place.]

Well, if OP doesn’t need him, then a Reduction-in-Force (RIF) can be performed.


I definitely need him now. I am getting ready to hire a new leader for him who will report to me too so that will be a critical need to identify how they will deal with him as well. I am hoping to have this ball pushed quite a bit up the hill or being closer to deciding to part ways by the time the new leader starts.

I hate company development goals.

Some (many) people don’t want to develop. They just want to do minimal work, make money, so they can enjoy life.

If you think this person is not even doing the minimum, just say that. Outline exactly what he needs to be doing, but don’t push any further. He likely doesn’t even care about the job if he has rental income too, so any additional aspirational encouragement is meaningless to him.


He wants to do Data Science, but he really isn’t even great at data. So I am going to frame it that way to kind of motivate him to develop the skills he needs. I will be point blank about doing the work though.

Encouraging him to quit and become a full time landlord might be your best bet. Not everyone is cut out for the role.

But yes, be blunt. Give him clear goals. Work with him realistically about how he can meet them. Think about what he does well, and what inspires him, and see if you can get him to do more of that.


This is certainly true. Depending on the task, having people that are just reliable contributors can be valuable on a team. However, this guy seems well below average based on the OP:

We don’t know what his prior managers may have done to try to correct the situation.

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Not frequently, but my firm has let go poor performers.

I was on a PIP ~6 years ago for about 3 months, before it was removed (and I was promoted the following year). I was a little annoyed, as, while it was deserved (my performance the prior year was poor), by the time the PIP was started, my performance had already significantly improved for 3 months. The problems with a mid-year annual cycle.

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Can you elaborate on that any? Did you think your performance warranted a PIP? Did you like how your manager handled that conversation (sounds like it happened while you were underperforming, not later at the review cycle)? What made you improve? After you improved was it like the underperformance never happened, or did you always feel like you were on probation?

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Yes, he is not performing to the role level he is being paid to perform at. He has to get improve just to stick around and be any type of contributor.

I talked to his prior manager today. He basically said he needs to be micromanaged. Yaaaaayyyy!

So he otherwise goofs off?

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I don’t know what he does, but he doesn’t get work done. I’m guessing running rental units, a cleaning business, and a vacation rental are time consuming and more important to him than his job so they easily distract him. The crux of my advice is going to be if you want to work here, I need you to work here.