When an employee’s performance decreases and no longer meets the demands of supervisors, recruiters speak of a low performer. So-called “low performers”, i.e. low-performing and low-performing workers, are a challenge in every company. What could be the causes of low performance? How is Low Performance Detected? How to counteract low performance? In addition to my articles on boredom in the job or internal dismissal, I would like to investigate this question.

Cause and handling of low performers

Own presentation from the study

Employees differ in their performance and willingness to perform. Thus, in addition to the term “high performer”, the term “low performer” was born. Low performers, by definition, “do not deliver the performance that other employees expect from them.” “You can see that these employees create little work or that the quality of work is poor.” (Source: Business knowledge). Let’s look at the picture, apparently very few workers are really emotionally gripped by their job. So can this be a cause of this so-called low-performance? Team anger, private problems: Staff performance decline can be for many reasons. But I myself think: “Employees don’t just decide to do less. On the contrary, there are problems for which they cannot find a solution.” The leading magazines demand: A manager must counteract low performance. So is low performance a pure leadership problem?

Indicators of Low Performance

Low performance can be based on two ways: employees can or do not want to. The magazine Business Wissen shows the following indicators for low performance:

  • frequent absences
  • increased number of customer complaints
  • inappropriate work behaviour – for example, the employee never thinks along, does not act service-oriented or is not helpful
  • many errors, even after correction and assistance
  • Performance drop that extends over a long period of time
  • emphasizes slow or unmotivated work
  • repeated “no” or pushing
  • Disregard ingesle to requests from the manager

Furthermore, the magazine has defined 2 types of underperformance.

Quantitative underperformance: The amount of work owed is not met within the time limits. The employee works too slowly or too little.

Qualitative underperformance: The work performed does not correspond to the quality due. The work performance is faulty.

Peter principle as an approach

Fold the cover of Laurence Peter’s book “Highway bridges that crash at the inauguration, moon rockets that fail at launch, managers who ruin their company, officials who give false information, doctors who amputate the wrong leg, and much more – those who know the Peter principle are no longer surprised by anything. Because in a hierarchy, every employee tends to ascend to a level that he is no longer able to cope with.” Peter’s thesis is that every employee in a sufficiently complex hierarchy is promoted until he or she has reached the level of his absolute incompetence, which usually marks the personal maximum of the career ladder and does not allow further promotions. In addition to the problems already mentioned, the so-called Peter principle can apparently be explained as a cause of low performance in organizations.

NewWork, digital work and holacracy against low performers?

I myself do not believe that employees deliberately do not meet the requirements of the workplace. Rather, I believe in Management Y, which is that people have a high motivation to work and want to realize themselves. In my view, therefore, this seems to be a structural problem in organisations. For this reason, research deals extensively with agile leadership and digital work, as well as the frameworks for democracy, holocracy and sociocracy. In research, I investigate the thesis: “There is a high performer in each of us”. Read more in the NewWork articles.

I also have to limit the fact that the term Low Performer is used. Of course, we should be careful with this concept. This is how the WiWo shows with an example:

The 42-year-old Frank from NRW is a typical 9-to-5 office person at a financial service provider. His job is important to him, his young family more important. Safety is as important to him as regular working hours. Frank is looking for everyday life instead of adventure, consistency instead of career. Employees like Frank are regarded in many companies as so-called low performers, as “service-by-regulation employees” who do not provide sufficient services. Because Frank doesn’t work overtime, he does his job properly, but not as fast as others. But is he really a minder? (Source WiWo)

Genderhinweis: Ich habe zur leichteren Lesbarkeit die männliche Form verwendet. Sofern keine explizite Unterscheidung getroffen wird, sind daher stets sowohl Frauen, Diverse als auch Männer sowie Menschen jeder Herkunft und Nation gemeint. Lesen Sie mehr dazu.

Falls es noch Fragen gibt, können Sie mich gerne anrufen. Hierzu einfach im Buchungssystem nach einen freien Termin schauen. Ich nehme mir jeden Monat einige Stunden Zeit um mit Lesern zu interagieren.

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I blog about the impact of digitalization on our working environment. For this purpose, I present content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday work. I am a manager in an SME myself and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the chair of IT Management.

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