Disgruntled employees can affect moral, workflow, and undermine common goals. Maybe you have one in your office, and maybe you’ve tried to downplay or even ignore the situation in hopes that the employee will either decide to leave the company or miraculously develop a better attitude. But neither has happened, and now it’s time for you to take action. No question, you have a serious management challenge ahead of you.
Following are seven tips for dealing with this troublesome employee.
- Confront the problem. Confrontation isn’t easy, but when one employee’s unacceptable behavior has begun to affect other employees, it’s time to attack the problem. In a calm and easy tone, and while maintaining eye contact, tell the employee how others in the office perceive their behavior and actions. Then give the employee a self–improvement plan, with the proviso that if measurable goals aren’t met they’ll be out of work. Then make sure you both sign the plan. You have now created a paper trail that will protect you if you have to let the employee go.
- Do they have value? One of the first things to determine in assessing a problem employee is whether that individual has any net value to the company. If someone does add value, but has a behavioral problem, it’s probably worth your time and effort to find a workable solution. Also read Managing Problem Employees for some good advice.
- Adopt a stance of no tolerance. If the employee is confrontational, immediately enforce a policy of no tolerance. Such behavior can escalate fast, and the results could be physical and emotional harm to you and other employees, destruction of property, lawsuits, and decreased productivity and profitability, to name just a few. Meet with your human resources officer if you have one, and your lawyer, to identify the severity of the activity and your options for dealing with it.
- Meet with the employee. If the employee’s behavior is less than ideal but still tolerable, meet with them to discuss their behavior. Give them specific examples of what you qualify as unacceptable behavior, and then frankly and empathetically ask them what their reasons for it are. Sometimes poor behavior at the office is due to deeper personal issues, which could include drug or alcohol abuse, marital problems, or parenting issues, and while these reasons don’t provide an acceptable excuse for treating others poorly, they are humanistic reasons that you can probably empathize with.
- Let them know you’re serious. Make sure the troublesome employee understands that you’re serious about enforcing policies and procedures for all employees, and that you’re trying to be as understanding and supportive as possible. You need to instill in him or her the firm belief that your organization exists to provide everyone with an opportunity to earn an income in a safe and supportive environment.
- Communicate with others. While you’re working behind–the–scenes with this employee to resolve the problem, you need to communicate with your management staff and other employees to reassure them that you’re concerned about the health, safety, and productivity of all individuals within your organization, and that you’re taking the necessary steps to resolve the matter.
- Terminate. If the employee refuses to change and you’ve exhausted all measures for bringing about that change, employment termination should be seriously considered. As a manager, it’s your job to make sure that you create and uphold a safe and professional environment for everyone. Be sure to check out How Can I Fire Someone Safely? for some information that will protect you if termination is necessary.