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Helping an employee improve their performance is a key identifier of a great leader. An even greater leader notices when an employee’s performance begins to dip or not match the rest of the team and moves immediately to step in and resolve the situation.  Leaders that want to turn around an employee’s job performance need to begin with an attitude that employee’s want to succeed in their jobs.


For 99.999% of employees, no one sets out to perform poorly at their job. For a leader, this is a vital realization that often goes unnoticed and unappreciated.  Employees want to perform well and if they are not performing well then, they get very frustrated and want to begin to perform well.


The first step to help an employee turn around their performance is to have a clear, impartial, and example filled session on their current job performance. The examples are a critical part of this meeting because the leader has to compare / contrast instances where the employee did and did not meet the standard and SPECIFICALLY what they need to do to resolve their performance to meet the standard.  The ability to describe in detail a clear, understood, and universal standard of job performance is vital to both the struggling employee and the workplace team.  If a leader is unhappy with a person’s performance but cannot offer a clear and concise description comparing employee performance to an identified standard that is universal in the organization, then the leader is the one that needs help, not the employee.  Clear, identified, and universal job standards are one of the most vital elements to high employee and job performance standards .


The next step is to identify a learning plan based on the areas where the employee has the greatest performance variation against the identified standards. It is essential that the learning plan incorporate the learning style of the employee.  If the employee is a hands-on learner, then a lecture or video training will be inadequate.  Additionally, there must be a minimum of three to four training sessions scheduled at least a week apart to give the employee time and practice to correct their performance.


The final step is to respectfully monitor, coach, retrain, and continue to develop the employee in all areas and not just the area that they needed help. Employees will improve, but depending on the skill set, the amount of confidence, and the complexity of the task, some more time may be required.  Essential during the monitoring of the employee must be to look for areas where the employee can contribute more to the organization.  For example, an employee that performs poorly in accounting tasks may have an incredible disposition for resolving customer complaints.  The task for the leader is to both correct the employee’s accounting skills to an adequate level and to get the employee into a customer service role where they can thrive.


Employee’s must be respected, held to an understood and universal standard, and developed to surpass their workplace challenges. True leaders look to standards to clearly identify areas of improvement and then use coaching, training, development, and monitoring to create an even better employee.   


Making the transition from leading troops in uniform to civilians in corporate America is a skill you can get better at as you increase your business acumen and corporate knowledge. How are you successfully making the military to civilian transition?


Share Your Tips How You Helped Someone Improve Their Job Performance!


About the Author: Chad Storlie is a Retired US Army Officer, the author of Combat Leader to Corporate Leader and has published over 360 articles in over 185 publications on military veterans, career advancement, business, leadership, strategy, education, financial planning, and national security topics.  Chad excels as an author, mentor, speaker, and teacher showing business leaders and military veterans how military skills make lives, careers, and businesses better.  Chad is an adjunct Professor of Marketing at the University of Minnesota – Carlson School of Management.  Chad has a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from Georgetown University.  Follow Chad @Combater and


Related Information:


  1. How Military Training Maintains an Ethical Focus at Work
  2. Military Style Coaching is a Great Fit for Your Career Success
  3. Leadership by Walking Around – Get Out of the Office!
  4. How to React to An Ethical Dilemma
  5. USAA Leaving the Military Page
  6. USAA Leaving the Military Guide