4 Ways to Help a Slumping Performer Back to Glory
BY Kevin Daum
Do you have a great team member who is falling behind? Here, Inc. columnists share how to get him or her back on track.
This Super Bowl showed that even the best performers can have an off night. Often, high-level achievers fail or hit a slump. When you have a previously top-performing employee or colleague who is for some reason not at his or her best, you must find a way as a leader to help the person get back to glory.
Often, a slump starts with something small but grows into something major once confidence erodes. Then your star player piles on the frustration of no longer being at the top and may start acting careless, swinging for the fences. I advocate going back to basics and looking for small wins. By simplifying the load of such team members so they can begin accomplishing rather than failing, they'll rebuild themselves and get back to the glory that made them confident in the first place.
Here are additional insights from my Inc. colleagues.
1. Uncover why.
The belief that we completely separate our personal and professional lives is just not true. Events that occur in one realm of our life can dramatically impact our efficacy in other parts. You need to understand why your colleague isn't performing the way she usually does. Is she overworked? Does she feel unappreciated? Is someone close to her sick, or is a relationship ending? It requires a level of trust and authenticity to get another person to open up to you in this way. You must establish that relationship from the beginning. Only after understanding why can you truly solve the problem.
I had a very important and effective staff member whose father was near death on the other side of the country. I could tell that she was distracted, and her work wasn't up to its usual level of quality. I encouraged her to spend his final month working remotely so she could be near him. She was more productive on the days that she knew her dad was doing OK, and it increased her dedication to the company and the work. Eric Holtzclaw--Lean Forward
A slump never just happens: The first thing to do is find the cause. It could be a business disappointment, such as a top salesperson who lost a big customer and feels rattled, or trouble at home. But there's a good chance it has something to do with the job itself, and that's when you should really pay attention. Is your star feeling slighted because he or she got passed over for a promotion? Is unhappy with the direction you're taking the organization? Or perhaps has stopped caring because another employer is wooing your star performer away? Determine the cause ASAP. Once you do, you'll likely know what action to take. Minda Zetlin--Start Me Up
It's baffling to an employer when a stellar team member's performance goes south, but you know what? Much of the time the employee doesn't understand what's behind the issue either. If a compassionate conversation doesn't bring the problem and possible solutions to the surface, consider offering up the opportunity to work with a coach. Your employee may need a greater challenge. Perhaps he or she is feeling undervalued. And, of course, personal issues often get in the way. Coaching provides a safe place to discover the reasons behind someone's decline and to identify and implement an action plan. Warning: You may not always like the exact outcome, but everyone will win in the end! Marla Tabaka--The Successful Soloist
Everyone--even a best performer--has slumps from time to time. However, because someone is one of your best performers, you should realize that this a temporary situation and that things will eventually turn around for the better. Be patient, supportive, and give your employee plenty of breathing space. This is not the time to start micromanaging his or her every move and questioning every decision. Did I say be patient? If the problem is deeper and doesn't naturally resolve itself in a reasonable amount of time, then work with your employee to get to the root of the problem and then resolve it. Peter Economy--The Management Guy