His resume looked great and his references checked out, and the first few months of his work were exemplary. But lately, you’ve noticed that his work is not up to par. It’s been sloppy, he’s missed a few deadlines, and you’ve had complaints about his attitude. You talked to him about the problems, and he said he would try to do better, but the problems persist. Now you’re thinking about firing him and writing it off as another hiring mistake.
But wait, don’t take such a drastic action until you are sure you know what the real problem is and whether it can be resolved.
A sudden drop in performance is often a symptom of stress overload. Some people know how to set aside stressful feelings so as not to interfere with their work. Others use stress as a motivator to work even harder. But for some people, stress distracts them from doing their best.
Often you can turn the situation around using a compassionate approach. For instance:
When you discover what’s going on for him, help him to look at it from a different, more empowering perspective. Stress often comes from feeling helpless, hopeless or diminished, and a viewpoint change goes a long way toward changing feelings, which automatically reduces the tension level.
By helping him look beyond his present circumstances and brainstorming ways to deal more effectively with his situation, you will be teaching him skills for life. As a manager, that’s a potent way to empower people to do their best, which is a manager’s most important role.
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