The Business Coach with Laura Murphy: ‘He’s not pulling his weight…’

Share this article

Question: A member of the team is not pulling their weight and others are starting to comment. How can I improve his performance? John

Answer: The simple answer is you can’t. Ultimately it’s down to him to take responsibility for his actions but what you can do is provide an environment which allows the right sort of conversations to take place.

If you haven’t got one already, introduce a performance appraisal system. At a strategic level it allows an organisation to define clear expectations of performance against key objectives. At an individual level it allows you to discuss employee’s skills and capabilities, current performance, future plans, training needs and sets out a clear action plan for the coming year.

That’s for the longer term though. Right now you need to have an open, honest and confidential discussion about the situation. Clear space in your diary so you can have uninterrupted time with him. Say that you’ve noticed a decline in his performance and that it’s having an impact on the team. Give him examples – deadlines missed, promises not kept. Keep your tone neutral and use open body language to encourage disclosure. At this stage you’re not laying blame anywhere, you’re just finding out the cause(s). Importantly don’t try to second guess what this might be and remember that the first answer is not usually the real reason. Once you’ve identified the cause you can agree steps to help him resolve the situation and keep it under review.

Finally, be optimistic. It could simply be that he’s not aware of his poor performance and having the conversation will give him the wake-up call that’s needed.


Laura Murphy is the founder of mtc2 ltd, a management consultancy, training and coaching company.  Laura is an organisation development specialist and business coach.  If you have a problem then contact her at

Visit the website on or click on the external link above right.

Names and details have been changed to protect confidentiality.