I don't think the first idea is good as senior employee directly interacting with the management may be remarked as "negative" in various aspects like leadership, self-driven, self motivation approach which is often required at HOD levels. Remember HOD is one and all others fall under him.
The second idea by filling a set of questions on engagement and satisfaction may give you some idea about this employee's demotivation. I personally believe a senior member from HR team should interact with this person informally probably outside office and find out the reasons before the person goes into some kind of trauma.
Pl be realistic.
Your idea of getting an Employee/motivation Survey filled-in by the senior employee MAY NOT give you the results you are looking for.
The reasons for the drop in quality could be wide-ranging--right from personal issues impinging on official productivity to purely official issues--as well as multiple and/or a Mix.
It's human nature to desist from putting things in-writing that the individual COULD see as effecting his/her image or career--even though that MAY NOT be the company's intent, it's the 'perception' that would decide if the employee will fill-in the survey COMPLETELY & CLEARLY [wouldn't like to touch the 'truthfulness' aspect here, even though that too could be one factor].
In general, any person is MORE PRONE TO OPEN-UP when the discussion is INFORMAL & with those whom he/she knows & trusts @ the personal level.
Suggest take Umesh Chaudhary's advice to depute any senior HR person to speak to him INFORMALLY before you decide the next step.
Another way could be to check-out with whom he interacts regularly in the office & see IF there are any personal issues that are effecting his performance @ office--quite often that happens.
I presume your focus is to set things right & not just to gather the reason(s) for this situation.
1. What do you mean by 'drop in quality' & what is the basis of such an observation?
2. Are you the Manager of this senior employee or merely an HR executive?
3. What is your norm of comparison of this employee with other senior employees in the organization?
Both your suggestions (i) management can directly speak to the person or (ii) a motivation survey could help, shall merit consideration after you provide the above feed back.
The problem that you stated is a very common problem.
Drop in quality is the symptom. Hence you need to find out the cause.
Usually a drop in quality for a good performers is basically due to following reasons
1) Family related problem
2) Office Politics
Hence, as you have suggested - somebody from management speaking will not work. Reason is - if he was close and open to management , he would have told his problem to the management.
I hope you are not from management. Now, my suggestion to you is - Take an initiative. You speak to that employee in friendly manner. Do not ask about his performance. Try to get some clues about his problem. If possible try to judge his body reaction when you speak about his family. if family problem - try to help from the office. Caring for employees family is the best motivation a company can do.
If you are clear that - There is no family problem - then far sure he is influenced by some politics in the company. Its time for you to crack the rumour, crack the politics. since you are not from management - you are the right person to understand what politics is going on in the company. If you closely observe, if he is into some politics then he will not be all alone. There will be some more employees whose quality has been reduced. Keep your eyes and ears wide open. Observe the movements of employees. Nothing can be hidden. Gain confidence of that employee. crack the political issue. you will succeed :)
Other relevant questions can be :
To which function, does this senior employee belong ??
What is the opinion of his Reporting Officer ??
Simply saying, "Have noticed a drop in quality of a senior employee."; is not sufficient.
"Drop in quality" of what ??
Is it dress, attitude, informal or formal participation; punctuality, relationship and interaction with other employees ??
If it is Performance, then what are the criterion, what are his tasks and targets; what is the end-date of this year's performance appraisal period and what are his ratings ?? what were the comments of his Reporting and Reviewing Officers ??
One should remember that HR is in no position to JUDGE the PERFORMANCE of employees in other functions like Production, Sales, Client Service, Finance & Accounts etc.
Neither it is competent, nor it has the opportunity to do so, as HR is not a party to all the activities of an organization; nor it is empowered to do so.
Moreover, one should not EQUATE performance with outward appearance or behaviour of the person. Condemning a person like this is unfair and injustice to that person.
Several times, in their over-enthusiasm and over-zealousness, young HR persons make the mistake of having the impression that " they are the lord of whomsoever they survey" !!!
Such erroneous thinking is bad for the organization. It is like the story of the proverbial monkey with the razor trying to become the barber - it is always possible that the neck gets slashed instead of the beard.
As far as judgement on performance is concerned; suo moto it should be restricted to one's own subordinates or those who report directly.
Hope I have not hurt the feelings of anyone, by coming down heavily on such impropriety or proposed action which may be unfair to someone for no fault of his on the performance front, which can be judged only by his KRAs under a good PMS; or to the un-biased opinion of his reporting officers.
@TS, B.K.Bhatia, Prasanna K S & Raj Kumar: I understand employee motivation can neither be answered in a yes or no nor has a definite solution. We can't process or document employee motivation as it depends on employees and their needs.
I work as an HR in a small setup, where we have tried to follow open door policy. Employees are free to reach out their respective department heads/managers/ HR in case of any issue/ problem/ clarification. The sr. employee is reporting to the key management, the management has already shared the areas where they would like to see improvement in him.
The employee has no personal/ official issues. The person interacts well with the team. But it's more to do with the comfort zone the person has developed over these years. We have tried giving few new/ different assignments, defining KRA's but there has been no significant improvement.
I think almost all of you must have faced this situation, would be great to read your views on this.