Good Employees Gone Bad

In today’s working world, things have clearly changed and will continue to do so. Some of that is good. Some of that creates a unique set of challenges. The phrase used most often with me by my clients is “Whatever happened to the person I hired?”. And when drilling down with them further, the real message and concern was that a good to great employee was now suddenly off track – big time. What happened?   What do I do to fix it? Why did this happen?


All of these are great questions. And while there is no clear cut answer at first, the common theme I run into the most is one thing, CHANGE. Something has changed and it has significantly created a challenge for the formerly good to great performer. You need to find out asap what that might be!


Types of change to look for that can impact performance are as follows:

  1. A new boss.
  2. A new focus for the organization or team, whether product, service, mission, etc.
  3. Cutbacks resulting in fewer employees but the same amount of work to be done. Additional duties added onto what an employee already has on their plate.
  4. Personal impacts outside of work.

There is a vast array of other possibilities, but these are the key areas most often addressed in my role as a Professional Development Coach. And it should not come as a surprise to anyone. As I have stated before, sometimes today all employees, whether at the top, middle or bottom of the organizational chart, feel that if they are asked to wear one more hat they’re going to need a bigger hat rack. They are at their limit with stress, peaked on the hours they can productively work and often now doing things they a) hate to do and b) aren’t trained or equipped to handle properly and effectively.



New Boss

A new boss always means change. If you are the new kid on the block and leading your team, how well do you know them? Realize and understand that the sooner they get to know you, your style, your CLEAR expectations of them the better. Now more than ever, people need to feel like more than just a cog in the machine. Build better relationships at work and the better chance you have of maintaining morale, productivity and focus with your people. Pay has never, in any study out there, been rated the number one reason for dissatisfaction, disengagement. The key drivers have always been based on better, clearer communication and understanding of each other and what motivates us and makes us “tick”.


New Focus

Okay, you’ve just changed something in regards to what your organization or team within it does, sells, works on, whatever. Did you have individual and team meetings to pre-plan, to discuss, conduct Q & A or town hall style meetings with your people? If so, did you follow up with them afterwards to see how it really went and how they really feel? Is there training needed? What are the expectations of them day 1, week 1, month 1 with this new undertaking or focus? What’s the plan?


Additional Duties Due to Cutbacks

This is SO common yet handled so poorly so often, it’s amazing there are not more problems in the workplace than there seems to be right now. Almost every single organization out there has experienced this a little or a lot. And while you may have no choice on needing to divide the work out among your surviving staff, a few very key points need to be considered, explored and thought through before doing so.   This will prove good for you and good for your employees that are impacted. Who might have the expertise or, even more important passion or interest, for the new duties? Does it fit their thinking and learning style, their hard-wired behavioral traits and tendencies, plus what they are passionate or interested in? This is a classic example of one of the key things I have addressed since founding my business almost 8 years ago. It’s all about job fit/job match and the aforementioned areas of thinking style, behavioral traits and interests are the building blocks for getting that right IF you know the answers to those. If not, you need to find out, asap. There are some great tools out there to help you figure that out without guessing and just going with your gut. If I could pick the number one area where organizations are missing the mark and as a result, experiencing the good employee gone bad scenario, this is it!


Personal Impacts Outside of the Workplace

This is happening to all of us. If we are experiencing massive change in our workplace, our friends and family are as well. It’s all connected. Don’t just assume that what may seem to be the rare “perfect workplace” you are in is not actually filled with insecurities, fear and stress. Obviously, if people in our lives outside of work are going through what the vast majority of the world is experiencing even if it has not occurred at your organization, the creeping fear that “it’s only a matter of time” is there like the white elephant in the room. Stop ignoring the elephant and address it head on. Honestly, openly, regularly in a genuine style true to you as a leader. Once again, this will help you build a much stronger and valuable working relationship with your team. And that is just another way to keep the good ones from going bad on you.


It’s a busy, hectic, non-stop workplace everywhere these days. But it can be more productive and more fun, with many positives coming from slowing down long enough to address just some of the scenarios described here. If you do so, it can only help your days go more smoothly as well. I hope you find some words of wisdom here to help you with your workplace challenges. Best of luck to all of you!