Ask Skip: How Can I Communicate Poor Performance to My Direct Report When My Boss Thinks This Person is a High-Performer?

All “Ask Skip” Questions that appear in this blog are actual questions submitted to me directly from blog subscribers or other inquiries that come in through the main website or via my Social Media pages on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Feel free to submit your own “Leadership, Teamwork or Workplace Communication” question here!

The short answer is, “you can’t,” if your boss outwardly communicates with this individual and you in a way that shows he/she believes they are contributing at a high level.

But, you do have some options.

You have to influence your boss to show him/her that their perception of this individual’s performance is inaccurate.

You need to build your case with specific details as to why you have determined this individual is under-performing. If you can’t prove it to your boss, your subordinate will not “buy” it either.

There is a bigger issue here, though, that has to be acknowledged and addressed. Here are three important questions to consider and evaluate:

  • What type of metrics are being used to track performance?
  • Who has set the performance expectations?
  • What has been agreed upon regarding performance expectations?

Additionally, I’d also be concerned about your relationship with your boss. It seems there is a trust/confidence gap between the two of you or at least a serious communication/perception gap that must be addressed first.

To work specifically on this and other leadership strategies to improve overall performance on your team you are going to want to participate in the “Confident Leaders Training Camp” either the live TeleClass version or the home study version that will soon be available, learn more here.

If anyone would like further clarification on this please feel free to leave a comment below and start a discussion for all to learn from.

’til next time, make it a great day!


If you have an issue you are dealing with in leading your team and/or organization that you would like answered in my “Ask Skip” column, click here to submit your own “Leadership, Teamwork or Workplace Communication” question here and you might just see your question answered here in the coming weeks. I also promise to reply directly so that you get the help you need when you need it.