What Should You Do?
A concern shared by businesses of all types and sizes is talent acquisition. Securing an all-star hire is, in many ways, a manager’s finest moment. Ideally, a promising new hire will then turn into a long-term, productive employee. Yet the stars don’t always align. What happens when the performance of an excellent employee begins to suffer?
When Performance Plummets
Many managers face the problem of a once good employee’s performance deteriorating. A top-notch performer goes downhill, and a manager wonders why — and what he or she can do to fix it.
Determine the Cause, Solve the Problem
Poor employee performance is a pressing issue, a problem which requires immediate resolution. The first step is to determine the cause(s).
1. A Change of Direction
One person’s strength is another person’s weakness. If an organization changes course by offering different and/or new products or services, some employees may not successfully make the switch. Sometimes problems start from a few changes to how an established process works.
Employees may resent change or they may lack the skills needed to excel in altered circumstances.
The Fix: Before enacting major changes, gather employees’ feedback. Seek out employees’ true feelings. Then involve staff in creating a plan to implement the changes. This makes employees feel valued, while also creating ways for the changes to occur with the least amount of stress possible.
Then determine any training needs ahead of time. Give employees the skills needed to master the changes.
Many businesses have downsized in recent years. The workload is thus spread over fewer employees. Oftentimes, the most diligent employees are hit the hardest. This can lead to feelings of exhaustion and resentment, especially if the completion of extra work is not rewarded.
The Fix: Match employees’ passions and skill sets to certain tasks. An employee who enjoys a project is less likely to think of it as extra work. Recognize and reward excellent work on extra duties. Do not simply pile duties on only top performers and then hope for the best.
3. New Staff, New Ways
A new boss means a new way of doing things. A new coworker can stir up the waters. Either way, new hires always impact the working environment, sometimes with undesirable results.
The Fix: New staff, especially new team leaders, need to focus on building rapport with employees. Great communication skills and an open mind go far in preventing misunderstandings. Expressing genuine interest in others will start off the process of building relationships between colleagues.
4. Nightmare Boss
Nothing smothers talented employees quite like a difficult boss. No one likes drama, which is what leaders with difficult or unstable temperaments create. Great employees want to advance their careers, not put up with grudges and games.
The Fix: If the overall performance of a team or department has gone downhill, look at the leadership. Better yet, avoid hiring an unqualified manager in the first place. Spend the time and use the resources needed to recruit proven leaders, leaders who will care about your business and your people. Finding skilled leaders may take more expense and effort upfront, but the future dividends more than justify the investment.
Once you acquire a talented leader, invest in leadership training to tailor him or her to your organization’s specific needs.
5. Stagnation and Underappreciated
Great employees are ambitious. An employee who remains in the same position with the same responsibilities will feel professionally stunted. Keeping a star in the same spot also shows a lack of investment and appreciation on the part of the organization. Top performers will grow demotivated and go elsewhere.
The Fix: Invest in your organization’s top talent by offering opportunities and showcasing outstanding achievements.
6. Fear of Change
One of the most human and overlooked reasons top employees become troubled employees is fear of change. The world of business is a world of change. Organizations grow and contract, and the nature and course of businesses change.
Great employees care about their organization. So, when rumors of change fly (no matter what kind of change), invested employees may get worried. This effect is further compounded if an employee has friends or family also experiencing major changes at work.
What distracts more than worry and fear?
The Fix: Be honest. Be honest about the state of your business, and changes coming in the near or distant future. This demonstrates trust and faith in your employees (while also easing their concerns).
Address Poor Performance Now
If a star in your organization is under performing, find out why and resolve the situation. This is critical to maintaining your employee’s productivity, and, in turn, an instrument of your business’ success.
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