When you see an employee’s performance start to slip to the point they look completely disengaged from their job, it’s easy to start thinking about their dismissal.
However, if you’ve hired a strong employee – someone who had been productive and a good fit for the company culture – working to reengage the employee with personal support, training or reassignment is usually the best option. That being said, here are a few things you ought to think about if you have an employee who appears to be disengaging from their job.
Personal challenges, medical problems and under-the-radar personality conflict can all drastically affect someone’s performance. That’s why it’s essential to begin by expressing concern and having an honest discussion.
If the issue isn’t personal, there’s a different cause. For instance, the employee may not have the resources to properly do their job or their skills may have deteriorated. There’s also the chance that this employee doesn’t even realize they are suddenly underperforming. This would indicate they are confused about what the company expects from them, or the incentive to do a good job is no longer adequate for them.
Disengagement is hardly ever solely caused by the employee, especially if the employee has already proven to be competent. Even if this situation is entirely caused by the employee, it never hurt to investigate your company’s potential role.
Explore Support Possibilities
If a staff member needs support or training, you should provide it. Your company shouldn’t want to lose a proven employee just because they are going through a tough time or need additional skills.
That said, you do need to perform a cost-benefit analysis of support and/or training. Training is the best option when there’s a clearly identifiable skill gap. Any training you supply ought to have a clear objective and serve the company’s overall priorities.
Look at a Lateral Move
You’ve determined that your employee has the right skills and knowledge. Yet she’s still not working to her capacity. If she takes responsibility for the situation and wants to solve it with you, a lateral move could work well. Helping people develop their abilities, gain useful experience and manage their career is vital to keep them engaged and productive.
Sometimes a disengaged employee will thrive in a new role with fresh challenges. Just be sure the change satisfies more than professional wanderlust. It’s easy to feel like the grass is greener on the other side of the office, but a shift should leverage skills and aptitudes that the employee isn’t currently using, while being beneficial to both the employee and the company.
Once you’ve looked personal support, training and a lateral move, termination is the ultimate action to take. If you’ve made a genuine effort to reengage the employee, termination will not come as a shock for your employee.
Key performance indicators and written documentation of your remediation efforts can allow you to make this decision and live with it. Your gut instinct should also play a role, but hard numbers will keep you from making a bad decision based on personal bias.
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