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When a Good Employee Goes “Not So Good.”

Often recently, business owners have brought up the issue of what to do when a good employee changes into being not so good. Many times, these are long-serving people who have helped the company get to this point in time.

Wise business owners don”t want to act harshly and precipitously, even in a down economy when there are good people out there looking for jobs. An outsider does not know the company like a veteran. So before you cast aside a former high performer, listen to some advice from others who have faced this situation.

First, resolve to face the issue promptly and be as specific with yourself as you can about what the changed behavior is like and how it is creating problems.

First, resolve to face the issue promptly and be as specific with yourself as you can about what the changed behavior is like and how it is creating problems.

Second, make a plan for facing the issue with the employee, with a real target date in mind by when you want to resolve things. List the things you want to find out from the employee about what may be going on and affecting him or her.

Explain the situation to an employment attorney who has solid experience in representing, not necessarily suing, management clients. Ask for advice on what approaches to take and the questions that can be asked that do not unduly expose you to a lawsuit if dealing with the employee results in that outcome.

Then meet with the employee. A number of owners have found that just having the conversation brings up things that may be bothering the person-a change in a personal situation, a reduction in pay or authority, a poisonous co-worker.

Others have learned that the employee had lost sight of the company direction, or his or her role and how they are to contribute to the company”s success. The bottom line is to deal with it because it probably won”t get better if it is ignored. And, you just may win back a high performer whose re-emergence could be contagious.