Sometimes individuals realize they are underachieving, but it’s surprising how often people confuse being busy with being successful.  Especially if the individual is feeling stressed, it’s not uncommon for someone to be thinking they are doing a great job when in fact they are running around being really busy without necessarily getting much done.

This is a difficult situation, because the conversation they expect to have with their manager is one where you thank them profusely for their hard work and praise them for how much they are managing to juggle.

This boils down to making sure the pair of you have the same understanding of what they need to achieve and what their priorities are.  Once they can see a different definition of what success looks like, they might start to understand that they are not performing quite as well as they thought.  You can still praise them for their commitment and their good intent of course, but their efforts need to be refocused on what the business really needs from them.


Click on this link if you’d like a quick method to help clarify expectations with direct reports


If there are still barriers to their underachievement, then perhaps it’s worth looking at this whole “frustration map” with them and working through what might be at the heart of the issue.