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5 Common Reasons Your Best Employees Have Stopped Performing — And How to Fix It

There are many reasons why an employee's performance may have dropped. As a manager, it's your duty to find out why.

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We all know a great employee — hardworking, dependable and one that consistently provides results.

However, sometimes these great employees suddenly start performing poorly. This could happen because of unresolved problems that have bothered them for months. Whether it's a personality clash with the boss or something completely different, don't be surprised when you learn why seasoned employees start making odd decisions, exhibiting erratic behavior or not reaching their goals.

They just don't feel like they belong anymore

Your employees are like children. You need to love them and give them attention, and they'll be good to you. However, things change — kids grow up and move out, and employees start feeling like they don't belong anymore.

If you feel like your employee is drifting away from you, it could be because of many factors.

  • You're not giving them enough feedback.
  • You're not challenging them.
  • They've been promised something that hasn't come through yet (like a promotion or raise).
  • The job isn't as exciting anymore.

Related: Happy Employees Create Happy Customers

They want to be praised

It's not that your employee isn't performing well. It's just that they want to be praised. If your employee isn't feeling appreciated, they will start looking for another job. When they find one that makes them feel appreciated, you'll be losing money and time as they transition over.

Make sure to praise your employees. Praising them can be as simple as saying "good job" or "you did a good job." You might even give them a gift card or thank them in person or on social media. Whatever works for your company culture is what matters most.

They don't see a future in the company

Have you ever been in a relationship that you knew wouldn't last? You weren't on the same page, and there was no real chemistry. It felt like you were just hanging out to be together. And then one day, you realize that this person isn't part of your life for long — and that's okay.

So what does this have to do with your employees? Well, it's kind of like that. If they're not performing well, they may not see a future in your company or have an interest in being part of your team. For example, they may be looking for something more challenging or exciting than what they're doing now. Or maybe they just don't gel with other employees or managers at your company.

So how do you fix this problem? You need to figure out why they don't want to be there and address their concerns head-on. If it's something that can be fixed (like creating a more open work environment), start working on it immediately.

Related: Learn the C.O.R.E. Four Principals That Boost Employee Happiness

They have a personal problem going on

If your employee's performance has been dipping, it may be because they have a personal problem causing them stress.

They might be struggling with a relationship or dealing with another life issue that's taking their attention and energy. If you don't take the time to find out what's happening in their personal life, they'll likely continue to struggle at work.

If you suspect this is the case, you can ask them directly if anything is going on that would be affecting their work. It might feel awkward at first, but once you do it once or twice, it'll become easier. And if they're willing to open up to you about what's going on, then they'll likely appreciate your concern and willingness to listen.

Their work environment is toxic

If your good employee is suddenly performing poorly, the first thing to check is their work environment.

If they're getting a lot of negative feedback or criticism from their boss, they might feel like they can't perform well at work because their boss doesn't have confidence in them.

Maybe they're working in a toxic environment with lots of backstabbing and drama between employees. This can be especially hard on sensitive or introverted people as it's difficult for them to cope with being around so much negative energy, all day long. For instance, if your employee isn't very social and prefers working alone, then having to interact with everyone else daily can make them feel overwhelmed and exhausted by the end of the day — and this will show up in their work performance.

When it comes to employee performance, there are a lot of factors that come into play. Sometimes performance ratings are affected by things you wouldn't expect the details matter greatly. I don't assume bad employees should be fired simply for falling behind once in a while. But I think everyone has the right and ability to do their best work every day—and if they aren't, it's reasonable to ask why and try to help fix the problem.

Related: How to Balance Employee Happiness and Business Expectations

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