Employees are among a company’s most important assets. In small companies, success can hinge on the performance of even one employee. Recognizing the ups-and-downs of employees is not one of those skills many first-time business owners have—or even know they are supposed to have. As a heads up, here are a few things to look for if someone on your staff seems off-balanced.

Note: The following are merely suggestions. Changes in a person’s personality can be related to a wide array of causes, often not related to the person’s work. If a worker is demonstrating behavior far outside that which is normal, seek professional guidance.


A once enthusiastic employee starts showing signs of cynicism, depression and lethargy. This could be caused by feeling as if they’re not capable of carrying out their job, no resonance with the goal they’re working toward, or even a lack of social support.


  • Match responsibilities with worker’s “calling.”
  • Insist they take a break from work.
  • Provide support and encouragement when they change positions or duties.

Salary envy

A once enthusiastic employee shows signs of bitterness. Soon, through either direct or back channel communication, you find out the employee has learned someone is paid more than the employee thinks is fair compared to them.


  • You can’t threaten to fire someone because they speak to someone else about their salary.
  • Keep communications line open.
  • Publish guidelines regarding the factors that go into a salary for each position.

Frustration (new employee)

You thought you found the right person for the job, but now that he has been around for six weeks, you’re not so sure. What can you do?


  • In the future, consider probationary periods for new employees.
  • Communicate early and often about any issues.
  • If possible, move employee to another department or office.
  • If there’s an unfixable issue, it is better to lay-off the employee as soon as possible.


Here’s an example: You provide employees with the flexibility to have a life beyond the office—if they show they can carry out their duties while enjoying such flexibility. Unfortunately, not every kind of business—or employee—can handle this level of freedom. In this and other situations, resentment begins to creep into an employee who believes when others use flextime, they are shirking their responsibility.


While the objective is flexibility, create a section in your employee manual that spells out in great detail the parameters of flexibility in your business. Address such issues as:

  • What days of the week or times of the day are off limits for flexibility
  • What types of activities fall  under flextime guidelines
  • Notification and listing guidelines for flextime requests


Photo: Thinkstock

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