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The Expert Panel was initially published at Forbes.
Our founder and managing partner, Terry Tateossian, gives her take on the subject as well. You could read her opinion under number 4. Be Human
Here comes the full article:
If prompted, there’s at least one employee that business owners can definitively point to and state that they are one of the most high-performing hires at the company. However, these high-performing employees sometimes go through issues that can put them off their game. For the company, this sudden change can impact performance and efficiency.
Business leaders must understand that the employee is still human, not a machine. Getting them back on their game will require empathy and a more individual approach. Below, eight contributors to Young Entrepreneur Council examine what a business owner can do to help prized, high-performing employees get back in gear after a personal or professional struggle.
1. Hit It Head-On
I have found that when people are off their game, they know it. The longer we wait to call out the elephant in the room, the more their anxiety builds and the further off their game they get. Although it can be a difficult conversation to have, hitting it head-on sometimes relieves their stress. This also allows the time for them to spew what is going on so that they can start to see the way back onto the path. Also, having the conversation shows that you care about repairing their diversion. If you didn’t care, then they just would not be there any more. Knowing you will back them in difficult times can help build more loyalty. – Marjorie Adams, Fourlane
2. Don’t Jump To Conclusions
Before you jump to any conclusions, do a quick audit of their role and then have a meeting. Look at their past and current projects, how long they have been in the role and who they are working with. The issue may be that they want more of a challenge, don’t get along with certain staff or have hit a ceiling in their capacity. Examining the situation in detail is helpful in the event they don’t know why they aren’t performing up to previous levels. Together you can help work through understanding what the culprit is and how to move forward. – Jared Weitz, United Capital Source Inc.
3. Ask Open-Ended Questions
The first thing you should do when you notice a change in someone’s performance is to get clear on what exactly has changed. These can be measurable indicators, such as a drop in output or low sales for the month. Sometimes it can be in the way they are acting. For example, the employee might be someone who is outgoing and playful, but for the last week, they have been quiet. The next step would be to set time aside, present the changes you have noticed and ask why. Simply stating something along the lines of “I noticed you are normally X, but recently Y. I just wanted to check in. Tell me about it,” allows the employee to share without the feeling of judgement. Your job now is to listen. – Matt Diggity, Diggity Marketing
Empathy is magic in and out of the workplace. Founders and CEOs with the weight of the company on their shoulders are often too stressed to understand anyone else’s lag. It’s important to understand that not everything can be automated, especially human ingenuity and high-level craft. I believe open communication with a warm heart can keep businesses, families and nations together. – Terry Tateossian, Socialfix Media
5. Start A Casual Conversation
Most employees might have a hard time talking about their personal or work obstacles, so it’s best to start a casual conversation and let them know that you noticed that something is off. Once you get the ball rolling, it will be easier for them to open up about any issues, personal or work-wise. Ask questions and offer a solution to their problem. For example, if they have a family problem, offer limited paid time off so they can attend to their problem at home. If they’re feeling stagnant at work, ask them to pitch their ideas about improving their work. Encourage them to contribute their plans or thoughts during meetings. – Kyle Goguen, Pawstruck
6. Ask How You Can Help
In many cases when an employee is off their game, there is something causing their frustration. It’s up to you to ask if there is anything you can do at the office to improve their mood and make their work a bit more manageable. You might find yourself in a situation where the employee is facing personal problems. If that’s the case, all you can do is support your employees and be there to help if they need you. – Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights
7. Help Shoulder The Responsibility
When a normally high-performing team member is falling short of expectations, it may seem confrontational to speak with them about it at first. To help relieve stress and provide support, one of the best approaches is stepping in and helping them complete their tasks. That may give them the breathing room they need to catch up and then get ahead again without having to get too personal about whatever it is that’s impacting their performance. This small gesture can have a positive effect on their long-term performance too since they aren’t forced to share their personal stories and they’re able to get the help they need so they don’t perpetually fall behind. – Firas Kittaneh, Zoma Mattress
8. Motivate And Set New Challenges
If they have stunned us with phenomenal work before, then we know this person can deliver. It is a matter of motivation and a clear set of goals. We have to know what is keeping them from performing at that level. Ask about what motivates them, what they are currently passionate about and what they want to accomplish in the next year. Then remind them just how important these goals are. When that’s not enough, I set them on a new challenge so that they can rediscover their potential through a new role, a new task, a new team or a new environment. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS