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How to deal with an employee’s drop in performance?

Remote
Underperformance
Motivation
Career Path
Health / Stress / Burn-Out

6 December, 2017

Vincent relates how a previously high-performing staff member became less and less performing. By talking with him, Vincent understands that his drop of performance comes from the fact that as a remote worker, he misses social interaction. Vincent figures out a solution to tackle this problem and to retain this great talent.

Problem

I had a staff member working remotely from Los Angeles, reporting to me. We went through a very intense period at work, working 100 hours a week for two months. Even though it was hard, it was a fun project, and we worked so much that it reminded us of our college years. The staff member working remotely really loved working on this project and was among the most motivated. Even if we were working a lot he wanted to do more. However, in the months following delivery of the project, his attitude changed and his performance dropped. My manager pressured me to fire him.

Actions taken

I resisted my manager's pressure, because I knew the potential of this engineer and what he could bring to the company. I decided to talk to him in order to understand what was going on. During our conversation, it came out that he was missing social interaction, and that he missed being as engaged as he had been on the former project, thanks to the constant online interaction.

Lessons learned

I realized that he had been working remotely for too long and that his lack of motivation came from loneliness. Because of this, I looked for another Google team close to LA, and explained the situation to them. My remote employee was hired there, and his performance improved remarkably.


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