12 Other Ways to Say “Not Meeting Expectations”

Are you trying to tell an employee they are not meeting expectations? It’s hard to do, and you need to be careful what you say.

Luckily, you’ve got options! This article will explore another way to say “not meeting expectations.” That way, you can encourage an employee to improve in a performance review without being too harsh.

Other Ways to Say “Not Meeting Expectations”

  • Subpar performance
  • Falling short
  • Below expectations
  • Failed expectations
  • Not meeting standards
  • Failing to impress
  • Not meeting the criteria
  • Not fulfilling the job role
  • Underachieving
  • Failing to deliver
  • Failing to meet deadlines
  • Not impressing me


  • “Not meeting expectations” is sufficient and correct in formal English, though it’s a little overused.
  • Try using “subpar performance” to show that someone needs to improve quickly in formal settings.
  • “Falling short” is great in more informal situations when someone isn’t performing well.

You have plenty of options at your disposal! Keep reading to learn more about the most useful ones for different situations.

Feel free to skip to the final section to learn more about “not meeting expectations.” If you came to learn whether it’s correct in the first place, the final section is just for you.

Subpar Performance (Formal)

“Subpar performance” is great to use in formal situations. As a synonym, it allows you to show someone that they are not meeting the required standards. It’s very effective when you want to get that point across.

You should only use a phrase like this when you’re someone’s boss. For example, you can direct it toward an employee during a performance review to remind them that they need to work harder to impress you.

It’s very common to include it in a performance letter or email as well. This can allow you a platform to share with someone what they need to work on to ensure their work improves.

You can use “subpar performance” or “not meeting expectations” interchangeably in formal emails. We recommend switching between both to keep your writing fresh.

These examples will explore more about using this alternative:

Dear Greta,

We need to meet regarding your subpar performance over the last few weeks. Please let me know when you’re free to do so.

Kind regards,
Mr. White

They told me about my subpar performance during my review. I need to work on that before the end of the month.

Falling Short (Informal)

“Falling short” is a great example of how to say “not meeting expectations” informally. It suggests you are not meeting the required standard by always “falling” before you can reach it.

You can use this when telling friends or colleagues that you are not succeeding in your job. If you’re going to use it informally, you’ll have more luck doing so when talking about your own shortcomings.

It’s possible to turn it around on your friends to let them know that they are not meeting the required expectations. However, you should only do this when you are close to them and know your comment won’t insult them.

We don’t recommend using “falling short” in formal situations. Stick with “not meeting expectations” when writing formally. It’s much more effective and sounds more professional.

These examples will help you understand more about it:

I am repeatedly falling short at work. I still don’t know what I’m supposed to do to make things work better.

Why are you falling short? If you can figure that out, you might make it a bit easier for yourself.

Is It Correct to Say “Not Meeting Expectations”?

“Not meeting expectations” is correct and formal. You can use it to show that someone has not impressed you during a performance review. This lets them know they need to improve quickly.

You should only use “not meeting expectations” when telling someone where they have been making mistakes or not meeting standards. The idea is to try and get them to improve rather than to insult their work capacity or ability.

You can also change the tense with the following variation:

  • Did not meet expectations

“Did not” is the past tense. It’s best to use this when you’ve already spoken with someone about not meeting expectations and have figured out a solution accordingly.

In business contexts, the phrase is great. However, you should avoid it informally because it can sound very offensive when speaking with friends.

You should bookmark this page if you feel like coming back to learn more about “not meeting expectations.” You never know when you might need a few extra synonyms.