Good Employees Gone Bad

Your star employee starts coming in late, doesn’t complete tasks on time and is generally letting down the team. If your first reaction is to fire him/her, take a step back and assess.

  • Has the employee been a model employee up until now?
  • Are you aware of any issues with co-workers and/or the work that could make him/her have a different attitude about the job?
  • Could there be a personal issue (family, health etc.) that could be affecting his/her performance?

Engage with your employee, privately, to see what may be troubling him/her. Launching the conversations in a non-confrontational and/or accusatory way can help get to the root of the problem..Try something such as ”I’ve noticed that you’re not your usual energetic and happy self at work these days. Is everything okay? I’m concerned about you.” This may encourage the employee to open up about what may be bothering him/her. Of course, you cannot pry into the personal life of an employee and thus, if the employee does not wish to disclose what the issue is, you may walk away without any further insight into the problem. However, even if the employee does not open up to you, he or she may realize that you are aware that their attitude has changed and that you are genuinely concerned. This in itself may result in a change of attitude.

Monitor the progress of your employee and if the downward trend continues, it will mean follow-up conversations are in order. If you employee opens up to you about the issue, work with him or her to the best of your ability to resolve or reduce the issue. This may mean giving some lenience to personal time off but as each situation is very unique, you as the employer are the only one who can judge what is reasonable for your business.  If your workplace has health benefits that offer assistance with a counselor, provide the employee with this information as it is an alternate option for help that ensures his or her privacy.

Showing compassion for your employee is important but equally important is stating expectations. Your employee has the right to stay silent about what may be troubling him or her however, if you are clearing stating your expectations and they are not meeting them, this disconnect will be obvious.

As we all know, life bring its challenges at various stages in life and these often migrate into our working lives. Put yourself in your employee’s shoes and consider your options, as well as the employee’s, before you make any decisions regarding discipline.


Post by: Lynn McIlwee