7 strategies for turning an underperforming employee into a star

underperforming employee

Every spa manager finds themselves dealing with an underperforming employee from time to time.

If you have an underperforming employee on your team, the issue is not going to fix itself. And your choices are limited: leave things as they are, let the person go, or get in there yourself and turn things around. The third option is usually your best bet, as the cost of replacing an employee can be exorbitant, as can the cost of an underperformer. This means you’re going to have to roll up your sleeves and invest some time and effort into your team member.

Here are seven strategies for turning an underperforming employee into a star.

Set clear goals.

People can’t deliver on goals and targets if they don’t know what those targets are. You might think you have communicated these goals clearly, but do a double check to make sure this is the case. Ask your employees to tell you what your company’s goals are. If they don’t know, that’s a problem right there.

Identify the problem.

Once you have made your commitment to helping someone improve, figure out exactly where the specific issue lies. Is it an issue with customer interactions, retail sales, or something else? Once you know where to start and on what to focus, you can move forward.

Reward achievements.

Employers often forget to reward achievements, and only communicate when things are unsatisfactory. Or they only reward top performers, which can mean singling out and praising the same people over and over again, and ignoring everyone else, which is disheartening. When an employee does something well, and when they improve, be sure to point it out, even if they aren’t doing “as well as” some others. Be generous with praise.

Communicate constantly.

Businesses often give a once- or twice-a-year employee performance review, if they give any at all. This is ineffective. Communication about accomplishments, goals, and missed targets should be constant and ongoing. People don’t just grow and learn once a year. We do that daily. Boost your employee’s performance through taking the time to communicate – always.

Encourage a sense of ownership.

People are more likely to work hard when they feel that they are instrumental to a larger success. Involve spa employees in the decision making process and make sure they understand that they are part of something bigger than themselves. It can be easy to only involve star performers in this way, but underperformers need to be involved too. Be sure to show how their successes become everyone’s successes.

Recognize the employee’s strengths.

Sometimes we expect too much of people. It’s possible that an employee is an excellent massage therapist or service provider, but not all that comfortable with upselling. And sometimes that’s OK, because the value they bring as a service provider is great, and many customers resent being sold to. (Yes, no matter how smooth you think you are, people still know when you’re trying to sell them something, and some people absolutely hate that.) They might, indeed, be choosing that provider specifically for that reason. The expectation that someone be all things as an employee is often unreasonable.

Re-examine your definition of a “star.”

Sometimes a person’s value goes unrecognized because they’re being measured in the wrong way. Managers are often blinded by their own ideas of what it means to be successful, but it isn’t always about meeting sales targets or most treatments given. Success can mean creating great customer experience, bringing valuable ideas to the table, recruiting talented friends, raising brand awareness on social media, contributing to a happy and healthy work environment – and much else. Be sure to take a thoughtful look at the team member in question and ask yourself if they’re not bringing value that you’re just not seeing.

On the other hand, sometimes an underperformer is just that: an underperformer. And if things aren’t going to improve you might have to re-examine their role at your company. But in many cases, people will rise to the level of the confidence you place in them.

When you show someone that you believe in them, they will often prove you’re right to do so.


Spa Executive magazine is published by Book4Time, the world’s most innovative spa, salon, wellness, and activity management software. Learn more at Book4Time.com