Underperformance in the Workplace

Underperformance In the WorkplaceWe’ve all underperformed in our roles at some time or another (and if you haven’t, you will). Not meeting expectations and disappointing our clients and colleagues is a terrible thing but it will or has happened to everyone. The natural reaction is to retrench and try extra hard at the next project but sometimes that added eagerness can cause more mis-steps and more missed expectations – drawing you into a downward spiral and leading to you being labeled an under-performer. Courtesy of HBR, here’s what to do, and what to remember, should that happen:

  • Accept and understand it
  • Ask for help
  • Decide what to focus on
  • Restore your reputation
  • If all else fails, consider a change

Principles to Remember


  • Recognize what is in your control to change and what isn’t
  • Sincerely ask for advice and feedback
  • Include others in your improvement efforts so they can see and appreciate your progress


  • Be defensive about your underperformance and try to blame it on outside events or other people
  • Assume that just because you are improving, others recognize it
  • Stay at a job where you’ve become permanently labeled an underperformer

via Help! I’m an Underperformer. – Amy Gallo – Best Practices – Harvard Business Review.


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