You never know what an employee is going through, but you can tell when their performance is slipping. What is the best way to approach this employee when you see them slipping?
It can be a touchy subject. You never know what is going on at home. There could be a divorce in the midst, a sick niece or ailing parent. You simply don't know. The bottom line is that you have to see what you can do as an employer to improve the situation at work.
What have you done that could have prevented your employee from performing their best? Have you held them back in any way? Were your deadlines for assignments too challenging when looking at the training and education that the employee was given?
It is important to look inwardly and ask yourself these questions before jumping to conclusions about employee performance, because often times the problem can be managerial. Look at past performance reviews to determine what motivates your employee and use that information to help them get back on track.
Don't Jump to Conclusions
Jumping to conclusions needs to be avoided. Making assumptions before you have a conversation can add more stress to the situation. Try to remove any bias you may have towards the employee before taking action. Instead, gather data-driven information to help broach the topic without personal bias.
Have a Conversation
Open dialogue is vital in finding a successful solution to the problem and is the first step to moving forward with continued conversation. Often, a simple, frank conversation about what is going on will shed some light on the situation and help you to better understand what is happening in the life of your employee. If the situation is work-related, you will then be able to shift some things to resolve the situation. If the issue is personal, you can offer time off to get personal affairs in order.
Remind Them They Aren't Alone
Connecting with employees on an emotional level can help them feel less alone. If your company has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), offer to set up an appointment with a professional counselor who can help them cope. Helping them connect with co-workers through company lunches or fun events can also help them feel more supported.
Encourage Continued Communication
Even if the issue seems to be "solved," it is still important to keep the lines to consistent communication open with that employee, or any employee for that matter. Lacking communication from a managerial standpoint can contribute to a host of other issues, so keep the lines of communication open to avoid negative outcomes.
Being there for your employee to provide assistance and guidance in a moment of stress or confusion can be the difference in how they perceive you as a manager. By providing a supportive environment that fosters open conversation and problem solving, you become a manager who solves workplace problems before they start.