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Manage a suddenly unhappy staffer

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in Leaders & Managers,People Management

Before an employee’s performance slips or he or she quits altogether, take these steps to correct the situation:

• Think about the circumstances. Has the employee been overworked? Did you recently conduct a negative feedback session or performance review? Is there turmoil in the company or on the team? If you can’t pinpoint anything that may be driving the dissatisfaction, it could be a personal issue.

• Schedule a meeting immediately. If the unhappiness is work-related, you don’t want to allow the issue to fester. Instead, meet with the person privately and start the conversation by saying, “I feel like your attitude has changed and you seem unhappy. If it has something to do with how we do things here at work, I’d like to discuss the matter.”

• Conduct a productive conversation. Listen carefully and calmly to everything the employee has to say. Don’t make excuses or become defensive, but do offer your insight and perceptions about the situation.

Note: If the person says that it is not work-related, don’t press the matter or ask questions, but if the person does want to fill you in on any personal struggles, listen as long as you are comfortable with the topic, but you should keep your advice to yourself.

• Don’t expect a miracle. If an em­­ployee feels wronged, it may take time to regain trust, and the fallout of a personal problem can linger. If you don’t see im­­prove­­ment in attitude or if you see a slip in performance, coach the em­­­­ployee and offer support and positive feedback, but ultimately, be prepared to fire someone who refuses to meet the expectations of the job.

— Adapted from “6 Best Practices for Man­ag­­ing Unhappy Employees,” Sujan Patel, Entre­­pre­­neur.

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