Are Your Employees Failing? Here Are 3 Reasons Why

Raffa Financial ServicesRaffa Financial Services on 01/10/2019

Ever hired someone who seems to have the right skills, attitude, and desire to succeed only to watch them flounder in their new position?

As challenging as this is for you, it’s also frustrating for your underperforming employees, who may not only be struggling internally, but also quietly thinking about hitting the road. Talk about wasted resources!

Why does it happen?

When it comes down to it, there are three main reasons employees fail.

  1. They’re in the wrong position
  2. They’re in the wrong organization
  3. You’re not giving them what they need to succeed.

The good news is that all of these things are within your control.

Do your hires match your positions?

If you’re looking to fill open roles, you’ve probably got more work than you can handle. Rushing through, putting off, or skimping on the hiring process can be really tempting. But these tactics will only hurt you in the long run.

When you have a well-designed plan to follow, you’re much more likely to find the right people for the right positions. Take the time to develop a strategy for who and how you want to hire by:

  • Clearly defining roles and tasks
  • Updating job descriptions and listings
  • Creating an ideal candidate profile
  • Evaluating who should be involved in interviews, decision making, and hiring
  • Aligning your hiring and recruiting processes with your organizational purpose
  • Building, enhancing, or overhauling your employee onboarding program

Even with the best hiring practices in place, you will occasionally discover an employee who is stuck in the wrong position and unable to live up to his or her full potential. Once you’ve figured this out, you can make adjustments through cross training activities, adjusting job functions, or considering that person for other positions as they become available.

Does your team match your culture?

Maybe you’ve got some staff members who don’t buy into your mission. Perhaps they’re just punching the clock, or even worse— sabotaging your efforts and spreading ill will.

Clearly these people hopped on the wrong bus. Luckily, you’re in the driver’s seat. You let these folks on, and now it’s your job to help them off.

A few tips to make this process go smoothly:

  1. Document what’s not working
  2. Have a meeting to discuss current performance and future career visions
    1. Is there a viable solution?
    2. If so, set realistic goals and agree on measurements for success
  3. Document again
    1. If all is going well, great!
    2. If not…
  4. Set that person free

Often, unhappy employees want to leave their jobs. They’re just too scared to do it. And the negative energy they emit brings the entire team down.

Letting these individuals go can set them on a path to where they really want to be. And set you on the path to building a more consistent and positive company culture.

Is it them or is it you?

If you consistently find yourself with underperforming teams or employees, the problem could be you. Even the very best employees can’t succeed if they don’t have the proper tools to make it happen.

Here’s what you need to be providing:

Clear direction – If your employees aren’t clear about what they need to do, how can they possibly perform to standard? Assigning tasks in a haphazard manner will get you haphazard results.

Constant communication – Checking in the day before a project is due is too little, too late. Especially if you neglected to share said due date in the first place. Communicate clearly and openly before and throughout a project to make sure everyone is on the same page. Once the project is complete, communicate some more. Talk about what worked and what didn’t. Answer questions and make notes about ideas for next time.

Strong Leadership – If you’re responsible for managing a project and it goes awry, you need only look in the mirror to find out why.

  • If your supervisory strategies include micromanagement, fear, and distrust, the only thing you will succeed at is keeping your employees from reaching their full potential. You will also effectively squash all creativity, innovation, and project ownership.
  • When you manage like a magician, appearing out of nowhere to assign projects, leaving important details hidden in your bag of tricks, and constantly look for applause, you will see your results disappear in a puff of smoke— along with the respect of your team.
  • When you create a supportive atmosphere of communication, trust, and confidence, people will naturally succeed.

A culture of teamwork – If your organization operates in individual silos, you’re setting everyone up for failure. Teams need to talk together, work together, succeed together, and celebrate together. If you’re not actively encouraging and facilitating these things, you are your own worst enemy.

Is it time for a tune up?

If underperforming employees are an issue in your company, it’s time to evaluate your HR and management processes to see what’s going on. Look for patterns of behavior and the underlying causes, then commit to carving out time with leadership to discuss these issues and find solutions.

Running a business full of under-performing employees is like driving a car with rusty spark plugs. You might be able to limp along to your destination, or you might get stuck half way there. Make sure your business and your employees have the power to get you where you need to go.


At Raffa Financial, we provide long-lasting benefits strategies to take care of your business and your employees. Located in Rockville, Maryland, we identify and manage complex employee benefits challenges for businesses all over the greater Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC area.

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Photo by Kaspars Grinvalds 

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