Underachievers in the workplace slow growth, inhibit teamwork and lower the morale of other workers. A small business owner needs to deal with employees who are not making the grade in order to lift the entire company. To effectively motivate an underachiever, get at the root causes of her behavior and address them by supportive strategies.

Form Relationships

It is essential to form relationships with employees who suffer from underachieving behaviors. While these relationships should be professional, they should also be friendly and express concern and a willingness to help the individual. Get to the root problems of the person who is not living up to expectations by getting him to talk to you. If you can discern the reasons for his underachieving behavior, you can help motivate him to overcome the issues so he can progress and help your business.

Set Incremental Goals

Underachievers often feel overwhelmed by workloads and expectations to the point at which they disconnect and only do enough to get by. A manager can help lessen this feeling of tremendous burden by setting small incremental goals to build up the employee's confidence. For example, a small business supervisor can meet weekly with a struggling employee to come up with a strategy for specific achievements over the next five business days. Dr. Brian Grossman states the goals you set with the employee must be attainable and realistic. When you break up large tasks into small manageable sections, the underachieving worker gains a sense of accomplishment and learns how to approach large objectives herself.

Invite Critiques

Allow your employees to voice concerns in an environment where they will not feel threatened. Employees sometimes fear retaliation by management for airing complaints, so you must dispel this belief. When a worker is not working up to set standards, it might be because he has particular concerns about the job that cause him to feel indifferent or undervalued. Negative perceptions caused by workplace problems prevent an employee from performing at his best level. Encourage such a worker to express his concerns so you can work on solving them. For example, he might believe he was not given enough initial training on how to perform his job, which could be remedied by additional instruction and support.

Call to Action

Sometimes the underachieving employee needs a wake-up call. An underachieving staff member might be coasting, unaware that you and her coworkers are impacted by her performance. Meet confidentially with the employee to discuss your issues with her performance. While you need to be honest, don't be overly judgmental or threatening. Instead, gently give her a call to action so she becomes aware of her need to accomplish more. Inform her that you support her in her efforts and make a plan to provide assistance as needed. Keep in mind that her achievement helps not only develop her career, but also helps your company's profits.