Fixing a Struggling Star - A Leadership Story

by Jason Evanish, CEO Get Lighthouse, Inc.

When is the problem not really THE problem? What do you do when your star employee on your team underperforms or disappoints you?

The easy answer would be to pounce and criticize. To focus on immediately correcting the issue. Yet, if you do that, you’ll be making a big mistake. Instead, learn from a key lesson I stumbled on early in my career and dig a bit deeper. 

Fixing a Struggling Star Employee

In this week’s episode, I share a personal story about how I learned much more than I originally planned when I had to give some tough feedback and coaching to a struggling star employee. You’ll learn what the problem was, what I planned to do, where the conversation went instead, and why that made all the difference in the world. It helped me see how leaders can play the long game to win big with their people.

Listen to our episode on fixing a struggling star employee:

Lessons and links from today’s episode:

  • The hiring method I like to use (give them an assignment)
  • Prepare for any 1 on 1 meeting to give feedback by following the Prepare Listen Act model:
    1. Learn the step by step process in our blog post here.
    2. And listen to Episode 2 for a hands on discussion about it.
  • When you have an issue with your team, make sure you check in how their world is going. You may find super important context out. Reserve judgment until you hear the full picture.
  • If you make it safe to talk about issues, you may be surprised how candid, apologetic and open your team may be with you. This is priceless. (Learn about creating psychological safety here)
  • Always look for the root problem. Don’t simply treat symptoms.
    • Ask why something disappointing may have happened and give your star employee the benefit of the doubt. 
  • If your struggling star employee tells you they’re overwhelmed. Believe them. It’s hard to find replacement stars, so you’re much better off taking care of them.
    • Lighten the load
    • Make priorities clearer
    • Give them a break if needed
    • All of these beat having to hire a replacement.
  • Yet, always maintain your standards. We still did ultimately talk about the recruiting issue, because it was a problem. But first we fixed the root issue. 

PS: Don‘t miss your last chance to join our email-based Lighthouse Lessons program, The 1 on 1s Master Class, which starts this Thursday, May 12th.

Don’t miss out and seize the perfect opportunity to level yourself up as a leader with 12 bite-sized, super-relevant, email-based lessons. Learn how mastering your weekly 1 on 1s can bring out the best in your team and fix your biggest problems as a manager, at your own pace, from wherever you are. 

This is also your last chance to purchase the Lighthouse Lessons Group Edition. Help your fellow managers build bonds and collaborations with weekly discussion agendas that empower in-depth conversations about their newly gained knowledge.

Sign up now: The 1 on 1s Master Class

Remember: This is your final opportunity to join our 1 on 1s Master Class. Never have an awkward, or unproductive 1 on 1 again, and do so at a price and time commitment any leader can afford. Reserve a spot for you or your fellow managers now for our program starting this Thursday!

Check out the full lesson list here and reserve a spot now.

Jason Evanish

Jason Evanish

As the founder and CEO of Get Lighthouse, Inc, Jason and the Lighthouse team have helped managers grow their leadership skills in dozens of countries around the world. They’ve worked with a variety of companies from non-profits to high growth startups, and government organizations to well known, publicly traded companies. Jason has also been featured in publications including NPR, the Wall Street Journal, and Fast Company.

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