Have you ever had that sinking feeling that one of your top performers are going to quit? If it’s happened to you before, it’s likely left you, their leader, wondering why they left. Your biggest question might even be: What happened?
People will often walk away before they ask for what they want (or before they will tell you what is wrong). That’s why knowing what to look for is so powerful.
Read on for key red flag behaviors, or listen in to a companion podcast episode that addresses some pretty massive employee engagement myths.
They are missing deadlines, not achieving needle movers, and aren’t keeping normal hours. Or they’re showing up in the office, but they aren’t really all there. They stop making commitments to long-term projects, and aren’t offering forward thinking ideas. They don’t seem to care about stepping up, growing, stretching or course correcting. Your once top producer is now not producing.
They aren’t proactively contributing in meetings, responding to emails/phone calls in a timely manner, and sometimes they don’t even respond at all. They are isolating, and only doing the minimum (or less!) in regards to keeping the lines of communication open and constructive. When asked if everything is okay, they get defensive.
They are expressing negative things about work. In general, they aren’t satisfied, they have nothing positive to say, they aren’t optimistic/outcome focused or pro-active. It seems like they are most invested in playing the blame game, and they may even display bullying behavior.
Drastic changes in appearance, as combined with changes in behavior, can indicate that they aren’t interested in how they are perceived at work. A major decline can communicate they don’t feel that they are “seen” at work, and the underlying belief that how they dress doesn’t really matter.
When team members come to you and express their concerns, this is something that you should consider serious. Your top performer usually works closely with team members, and they will be the first to notice subtle changes. It’s important to ensure that these concerns don’t become office gossip! However, don’t be so quick to dismiss them that you fail to take a moment and check in with the top producer.
If you’re seeing these behaviors, you (and your top performer), might benefit from a chance to step beyond your brains and reconnect with your authentic selves! You can check out our FREE mini-course here: 4 Pillars of the Authentic Self.
Simply put, all of these red flag behaviors equal one thing – your once top performer is now disengaged. Instead of contributing positively to the company, their behavior is having a negative effect. Once you see these behaviors, you can take immediate action. It is easier to respond to the intention of a behavior rather than the problem. It also helps us to groove our brains in useful ways.
All of these factors mean major disengagement is at play. That is the core way of knowing that someone is ready to jump ship. How do you know when to throw them a lifeline or when to let them go? When my clients have a top performer that is becoming disengaged and displaying signs that they are going to quit, they often find it powerful to check in with them personally. Ideally, you can see the signs and take care of this before that team member checks out. Let’s create an environment where you as the leader get the results you want and your top performers feel powerful, effective, enrolled and engaged.
Thinking that you don’t want a confrontation?
My 7 Step Feedback Frame (with some modifications for the disengaged employee) is outlined below. It helps everyone get to a shared positive understanding. This is a process you can do with your struggling top performer. It’s essential to come from caring, listening place. Focus on first finding out if the person wants to stay, and then forge a going-forward plan together.
Explain why you’re meeting, and the outcome you want (which is to form a collaborative turnaround plan). This is where you need to find out if something external is happening that is contributing to their disengagement.
This is where you describe specific behaviors that must change, and provide examples so the employee can “step into” the past scenarios. This is also where you gain more clarity from them on external factors.
The damage that these behaviors are doing to others/the company/the employee themselves. Also, seek to find out more about the damage the employee may perceive is happening to them. (Remember this is a conversation, and listening is key!)
Do they agree that there is a problem? Do they agree this problem now must end? This is the most essential step. If you don’t reach agreement here, go back to step 1. Once agreement is reached, you’ll notice steps 5-7 are more pleasant, as the employee will now be engaged in finding a solution!
Set a time period (30-90 days) where you’ll meet weekly for 15-30 minutes to track their progress. The focus will be on releasing the challenging behaviors, as well as fixing the external factors identified above. Make the plan very specific in terms of what you need to see, and when you’ll know you got the outcome you wanted. If the turnaround doesn’t occur, state clearly what the consequences will be (lose job, etc). Also note that you may have some action items here too, especially if there’s an external factor you need to fix (your behavior, that of another, a silly policy/decision that set the employee off, etc). Again, this is a conversation, and you need to be as open to hearing truth and responding constructively as you would like your employee to be!
Is everything clear? Anything else we need to cover? Reiterate your desire for a positive resolution so that the consequences can become irrelevant (do your best to set yourselves up for success so that no consequences are actually implemented).
Launch the plan, and commit to ending the conflict once and for all. Be sure to track it frequently in order to make sure all concerned see the behavior change too.
Success is a two-way street. Ensure that all parties can feel good about moving forward, and you’ll reap the rewards of having engaged employees that are contributing great things to your organization!