Posted on: September 24, 2020 Posted by: admin Comments: 0
How To Deal with Underperforming Business and Employees

Underperformance for business units is inevitable. No matter how remarkable your business is performing, there will be a business unit that will underperform. If your company comprises numerous business units, you will find that at least two or three are underperforming.

As a CEO or executive, you must take dynamic action, while you should also keep in mind that while empowered teams are accountable, they have their way to run the unit.

So, Is It A Good Idea To Intervene In A Business Unit?

As an executive or CEO, you may have the authority to intervene but before you do so, assess the damage and then engage with the team at a low level. However, while the intervention should be of a low level, you should deliver value with consistency.

  • Take rapid action and assess the underperformance because if you don’t, it will become worse with time
  • The intervention has to be low level because if you intervene actively, you can disempower the team (which can lead to severe issues in the long-term)


Identify the damage: One of the most valuable assets you have in business is management time.

To assess the damage, try to understand the context of underperformance. Is it in the context of the wider group?

Can the business create a great value for the company in the future if the underperformance is rectified? Is it harming the financial strength of the group to a degree of material?

If you find that the issue is not material in both context (wider group and business unit), then ignore it during your assessment. If your managers are skilled and perform, they can rectify the problem without the need for your intervention.

If you find that problem is material in the business unit context, intervene at a low level as discussed earlier. However, the material is the problem in both contexts, and then you will have to spend a lot of time intervening and correcting the problem.

Identifying The Cause:

  • If you decide that you must intervene, then start by identifying the problem.
  • Is the underperformance trivial? Is it slightly lower than how it is usually?
  • Is operational glitch the reason behind it?
  • Has it arrived as an outcome of the business cycle? If yes, then how much time will it take?
  • Is there a problem with the business model?
  • Is it because of some right moves by the competitor or some shifts in the market?
  • Does the incompetence of your managers cause it?

Talking with The Manager

After you have identified the issue, it is now time to talk to the unit manager. You should understand what level of awareness a manager has? Does he know why the problem has arisen?

If he knows the reason, then ask him whether he knows where the problem is. For instance, which product groups, categories, or consumer segments have the problem.

Does he have a plan to rectify the problem, and will they able to act on it?


To decide how to intervene, you must understand the impact of the problem. Firstly, if the management can resolve the issue independently, you don’t need to intervene. However, if the intervention is necessary, drive an understanding of the manager’s part. Any action that is taken must be based on that understanding.

If the manager is not competitive and fails to deliver, then replace him. As an executive, your time is your most significant resource. So, don’t waste it on finding a candidate. Let a global executive search consultant do it for you. These firms master all the skills required to find the perfect candidate for the position.

If the issue is not the material of the group, keep your engagement as light as possible. You can leave the business anytime if the rectifying problem requires too much intervention.


Dealing with an underperforming business can be challenging. If the data indicates that a business unit is underperforming, don’t wait to heal independently. You may have to take rapid action if the problem is severe. Begin by assessing damage and problem. After you have an understanding of the issue, take the appropriate action to correct the problem.

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