Performance Management for Deadbeat Employees

Uh oh! You thought you hired someone who would turn out to be a superstar, but it turns out he’s nothing more than a deadbeat. He frequently calls out and doesn’t schedule time off in advance and does just enough work to stay on the company’s good side – but not enough to make a valid contribution to the team.

He thinks only of himself and, while he does enough to keep his job he really doesn’t help the team or care about growing individually. He’s obviously there to get paid and go home. Sometimes deadbeats vocally criticize the company in front of others as well. Eventually, their attitudes may begin to bring down the entire workgroup.

Here’s the problem. When you hired Mr. Deadbeat he was excited about his job and did everything you asked for the first few months. So what went wrong that changed his attitude? It’s your job to find out – especially if you’d like to see him return to his previous state rather than continue the way he is.

The kicker is this – no matter what you think, you or your organisation are the cause of his unrest. This may or may not actually be true, but in his mind either you (personally, as his manager) or the company did something that made him unhappy. You popped his “happy employee” balloon and things started to spiral from there. Can you identify exactly when his attitude changed? Do you remember what the cause was?

Once you’ve identified the reason for the attitude (if there is one) you should work with your employee to improve his performance. Try to:

  • Give your employee a reason to improve his performance; whether he’s working towards eventual promotion, a raise, or some other objective;
  • Make sure you are supportive. Some people are bitter because they simply feel as though no one cares about them;
  • Set some short-term goals. Feeling as though he’s reached some positive goals will make your employee feel accomplished and may help to shift his attitude.

Coaching your employees may be difficult, but it’s only made more difficult by employees with bad attitudes. Do you have potential new managers working their way through the system? If so, make sure their management training courses include information on how to deal with difficult employees as well. Not having the tools to address these situations can mean the difference between a great day at work and a miserable experience.

Thanks again,


Sean McPheat

Managing Director

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Mark-WilliamsMark Williams

Mark Williams is a learning and development professional, using business psychology and multiple intelligences to create fascinating and quickly-identifiable learning initiatives in the real-world business setting. Mark’s role at MTD is to ensure that our training is leading edge, and works closely with our trainers to develop the best learning experiences for all people on learning programmes. Mark designs and delivers training programmes for businesses both small and large and strives to ensure that MTD’s clients are receiving the very best training, support and services that will really make a difference to their business.