5 Ways Of Dealing With Unreliable Employees

PUBLISHED18 October 2021

Unreliable employees are the nightmare of every employer who believes in results from consistent hard work. The havoc that comes with an employee not performing and delivering on their part often sets back the whole team. It doesn’t matter how qualified and capable the employee is, if they fail to remain consistent in their delivery, then their potential is simply wasted. Unfortunately, unreliable employees make the majority of the workforce in most sectors. As an employer, you can’t keep firing and hiring everyone who shows the slightest signs of unreliability, it could be bad for business. There are ways to deal with unreliable employees and in time they become model employees.

1. Create A Work-friendly Environment

It is up to you the employer or manager to make sure that the work environment you create for the employees is ideal for bringing out the best in them. Deal with the poor performers on your team and support the best performers. Remember successful performers want to be on the winning team always and they are often demoralised by leaders who fail to create the ideal environment for them to thrive. The ideal environment means everything being in working order and all tools and resources to help them deliver at the employees’ disposal. Sometimes the unreliable employee becomes so because they aren’t motivated enough by the work environment; this negativity develops into a habit of not delivering what is expected of them.
2. Let Your Expectations Be Clearly Known

Make sure all your employees are aware of your expectations when it comes to job performance and behavior. Ensure that every one of them fully understands their role in the team and what is viewed as a quality contribution to the success of the team. Clearly state the consequences of non-performance and the reward and recognition for excellent performance. Put an emphasis on how unacceptable it is for an employee to be unreliable and deliver less than expected. With your expectations clearly defined, unreliable employees are highly likely to pull up their socks.
3. Lead By Example

Be the epitome of a great worker yourself as an employer or manager. After setting your expectations and holding your employees accountable, do the same for yourself. Remember bad leadership will undermine the commitment of your employees to work ethics, and it will also dent the confidence they have in your leadership. Be the best example for them and you will no doubt inspire most of them to strive to deliver perfection always.
4. Strength and Compassion Should Be Your Mantra

If you are going to be helping people to adapt more positive and successful habits, then you have to inspire trust from them. Offer honest feedback with a lot of respect and sensitivity if you want to inspire trust. Never beat around the bush, but always be direct, truthful, and have compassion. By treating them with respect even when delivering criticism, your unreliable employees are bound to respond positively to your efforts and improve their performance.

5. Always Follow Through

You always have to reinforce the standards you set.  Let any employee who is not performing experience the full brunt of the consequences. Idle threats will undermine your authority and encourage the bad habits that prevent the employees from becoming reliable team members. After successfully supporting and letting everyone understand your expectations and consequences of non-performance, look out for that employee that still maintains their unreliability. It might be time to let them leave your team and wish them well.  Keeping them in the team when they are making little effort or showing zero desire to succeed will only further drag everything behind.


As an employer or manager, you will find yourself faced with the problem of unreliable employee(s) at some point. You have to apply the above tips and be firm in your decisions.  Unreliable employees reflect poorly on the business and it gets worse especially if they are in direct contact with customers. Sometimes it is worth giving them a second chance, especially when they show the desire to improve, but other times it is just best to let them go. Whatever your decision, make sure it is always fair in the end.

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