Like many industries, construction is not immune to workers coasting now and then.  It is perfectly normal for employees to be off task and do only what needs to be done from time to time, especially if they are experiencing some burnout.

Leaders may react by updating a possible job posting when an employee is no longer meeting expectations.  When it is a top performer who is having a sudden or even gradual shift, it can be disheartening.  Companies do not prefer to let an employee go, especially if they have been a top performer with high potential.

Before taking more drastic steps to replace the employee, look at why this person’s performance, attitude, or productivity may have changed. In some cases, this one person can be an indicator of a systemic issue. Before you look to replace that person, try the following:

Sit down for an interview. In many cases, the last time you had an honest conversation about the position was during the initial interview process. If you were not the hiring manager at the time, a proper discussion of the job may have never occurred between you and the team member. Be honest that you have seen a shift in their performance or demeanor and let them know that you value them and want to understand and help.

Use this time to compare job descriptions and duties as you both see them. Over time, many people take on new tasks or the position itself may have evolved. This is an opportunity to discuss these changes, determine if the person feels competent in the new tasks or responsibilities, and learn if this is the source of their declining passion. You may also find that they are simply bored and looking for a new challenge.

Encourage old fashioned communication. So much of our communication with management and colleagues is overly formal or too brief to get a full sense of the situation. It is proven that productivity and innovation increase when people actually have real conversations. Make time to actually talk to your employees to find out how they are truly feeling. Encourage open and honest feedback.

Recognize accomplishments large and small. Your top talent works hard, and the smallest accomplishment may be huge for them. In construction, we can often just be focused on the day-to-day labor and staying on project schedules; having a weekly shout out that recognizes all contributors can reignite passion in someone who may feel overlooked and underappreciated.

When you have an employee who seems to have lost the love for their work, take the time to sit down with them and learn why this may be happening. Encouraging conversations and acknowledging everyone’s contributions will go a long way to retaining top talent.


Photo by Christopher Burns on Unsplash