What is a leader to do when one of their top team members starts to fade? What happens with high potentials that lose their shine?

In my experience this can happen from time to time. And, with a strong development plan and coaching it is often a situation that can be course corrected. And one of the critical success factors is clear concise communications; it is usually the first step.

The first communication step is to determine the root of the issue. Derailed talent usually breaks down into 3 different scenarios: a new hire to your team that showed promise at a previous company, a new addition to your team or a team member that has been promoted to a new position, and lastly a tenured employee who just happens to lose their spark.  In each case, a solution can generally be found.

A new hire that performed well at a previous company

During the hiring process some employees may embellish some of their abilities or experience and it is the job of the interviewer to ask good behavioral interviewing questions to understand their true behaviors in specific instances.  So make sure you have a good behavioral interviewing process. You will also need to reevaluate your entire hiring process.

In a previous post “Behavioral Interviewing: It’s Not for the Untrained” I talk about the importance of an experienced interviewer and list 5 tips to help potential candidates from exaggerating their previous work history.

A new addition to your team, or a promoted employee to a new position

In a previous post “5 Leadership Questions to Ask Before Shifting Talent” I presented you with these 5 questions:

  1. What attributes does the employee need to be successful?
  2. Which of these attributes/skills are critical? In other words, prioritize the attributes of success.
  3. What are the high priority attributes/skills that the employee doesn’t have?
  4. How will he/she obtain the skills?
  5. And how long will it take to obtain the skills?

It is important to follow up on with a team member after they have been moved to a new position to make sure that they are fitting in and progressing as planned.  What if, after they have been shifted to another position, it isn’t quite working out?  Well in this circumstance your first job is to evaluate the process of promotions and job rotations. What criteria do you use for job rotations? What skills/attributes did this team member possess that made led to the decision to move him to another position?

It is important to understand that when shifting talent there will be a transitional period for a team member to get acclimated to their new environment. You cannot move a team member to a new position and expect results the next day.

Your best course of action would be to sit down with employee and discuss the position to understand your expectations of performance and success measurements to make the transition go smoothly. Make sure they are given all the tools needed for success and help them as much as possible during the early stages of transition. Give it more time and provide consistent and timely feedback to allow the employee to make adjustments.

A tenured employee who is starting to give up

This situation is definitely avoidable if you have a development plan and consistent discussions about their desires as a professional.

However if you notice that an employee is starting to not meet your expectations make sure that you speak with them immediately and find the source of the issue. It may be a personal issue such as a sick family member.  Or it maybe an issue in the workplace.

Only so much of this can be remedied, but in every circumstance the most important thing is to work with them to create a turn around plan and let them know you are available if they need help. Coaching them will be a key component to your role in the plan, but in the end it is their responsibility to get back in the game.  You cannot solve their problems however the simple act of caring can go a long way.

What circumstances have you encountered with employees losing interest and how did you remedy the situation?  There are a lot of leaders out there who have been in similar situations and your comments could help them out greatly!

Image Credit: The Stock Exchange (www.sxc.hu) User: Catalin82