Managing the people in your project management office (PMO) is as important as managing the processes. Most of the time, you can expect your team to pull their weight, but you may need to know how to manage underperformance in your PMO.

There can be isolated times when a colleague doesn’t quite hit their requirements, and you and your PMO team can pick up the slack for them. It may also be time to consider hiring new resources if your team are flat out and still not meeting expectations.

However, on occasion, people will just not be producing the results expected of them, and you need to manage the situation. To help you navigate the process, we’re going to go through five steps to manage an underperforming resource.

1.      Gather data

When you feel someone in your PMO isn’t performing to their best abilities, you need to back that up with data. If someone is slacking, you should be able to see it by:

  • Looking at their KPIs compared to their output
  • Looking at their performance over time and if there has been a change in deliverables
  • Reviewing pieces of work such as reports and analysis
  • Discussing in confidence with other people working with the team member

If you intend to manage a person’s performance, you must make sure that underperformance is backed by data.

Also, review the person’s job description and role expectations – there could be a disconnect between either your or their understanding of what should be done.

2.      Have a conversation

You need to make sure you understand any underlying causes for underperformance and not make any assumptions. Have an open conversation with the team member who isn’t performing to learn what their challenges might be.

Be sure to have other colleagues present to record and witness the conversation – check with your HR department what the correct procedures are in your jurisdiction.

In this conversation, you should also learn if the person is coachable. Are they open to feedback? Do they recognise they are having issues with their output? If so, you know you can work with them to improve.

3.      Implement a performance improvement plan

In a separate meeting, work with the person who is underperforming to create a performance improvement plan (PIP) to get them back on track.

You’ll know what their blockers are from the previous step, so you can work together to find ways to remove them or work around them. Make sure every element of the plan is SMART:

  • Specific to the issue
  • Measurable with data you generate
  • Achievable for the person they’re for
  • Relevant to their job expectations
  • Time-bound with an understanding of consequences

Ensure within the plan there are actions for them and for you as their manager. For example, you can commit to regular one-to-ones or organise training and upskilling to help them work better.

4.      Regular follow-ups

Within the PIP, you will have agreed with the resource when you should expect to see changes. You need to monitor these timeframes and review progress at each step with the person.

The PIP will be a roadmap to improvement, and it’s your responsibility to help execute and monitor it. This will also demonstrate to the person that you want to support them and offer help when it’s needed.

5.      Take action

As the PIP concludes, you need to review progress overall against what was agreed with the person.

If the outcome is negative and sufficient improvement hasn’t been demonstrated, you need to consider if the person is in the right role. You will need to discuss the next steps with your HR department if you think the resource needs to be replaced.

However, if you see marked improvement, be sure to recognise it. Look at your praise and recognition options in the business and be sure the person understands the value of their work to the business.

Managing underperformance

When a teammate wants to do better, you will find it easy to coach and support them into pulling their weight again. Using our five steps to managing underperformance will help you do the right thing by your team as a manager and give people a chance to get better at their job.