As a manager or a business owner, it is your responsibility to resolve difficult situations. You must be willing to engage in direct confrontation when you are dealing with difficult employees. Act quickly and use approved methods to resolve problems while also protecting yourself, your staff, and your organization.
It is natural to avoid conflict, but that is not effective leadership. Your responsibility as a manager is to your company. You also have a responsibility to your other employees. A troublemaker does more than just frustrate you. These individuals are disruptive to normal work flows and can harm relationships with other staff members or even your business partners. When faced with the chore of dealing with difficult employees, ineffective managers delay addressing the issue, gossip with other staff, or just flat out ignore the problem. The longer this continues, the greater the damage will be.
Identify the Seriousness of the Concern
Everyone makes mistakes from time to time, and your response must meet the needs of the situation. It may be that your dealing with an honest error, or you could be facing a deliberate threat to your business. Minor infractions are things that can be resolved with just a conversation. They include irritants and mild nuisances such as: – Missed time punches – Messy work areas – Inappropriate work attire More serious offenses require corrective disciplinary actions and documentation. These are things that harm others or disrupt the flow of work: – Not adhering to safety requirements – Minor damage due to carelessness – Waste of materials and supplies – Ignoring procedures Some infractions warrant suspension or immediate termination. These types of serious corrective steps should be reserved for overt and obvious misconduct: – Fighting or Assault – Theft of company property – Harassment of other employees – Slander of another employee – Damaging relationships with customers Your company should already have an approved procedure for dealing with difficult employees that you can refer to for specifics.
Documentation and Rules for Formal Warnings
A formalized warning may be necessary. In some instances, documentation is essential for moving to the next phase of the disciplinary process including termination. Most companies use a three warnings system that many employees and legal experts agree is fair: – Verbal Warning – First Written Warning – Final Written Warning – Termination Begin with a formal verbal warning. This conversation should be focused on communicating and not on bearing grievances. This is your chance to turn your employee around without having to resort to more aggressive methods. Although the warning is verbal in nature, be sure to document that the conversation has taken place. If the verbal warning fails to produce the results you are after, proceed to issue a formal written warning. This is an intermediate step and should be used to provide feedback from the last time you talked about the problem. A written warning is a serious mark against the performance evaluation of the employee. It often precludes advancement, pay raises, or annual bonuses. The final written warning needs to include language that makes it clear to your worker that you intend to terminate employment the very next time the offense occurs. Make sure that your employee understands this the last chance that will be offered.
In many instances, a disgruntled former employee can still be problematic even after they have been dismissed. Lawsuits and unemployment insurance claims are costly for your business. That is why it is important to carefully document every step taken throughout the entire process. Make sure you keep clear and accurate notes. Speak confidently with any investigator or social services agent that contacts you. Answer all questions, and demonstrate that your conduct was professional.
Dealing With the Aftermath
You need to also consider the impact on the rest of your staff. When dealing with difficult employees, the other people you have working for you will be interested to know how you handled the situation. It is important to demonstrate that you are fair but firm with the troublesome worker. Protecting the interests of your other employees helps to encourage cooperation and productivity. Showing that you are on the side of the staff helps you get things back to normal quickly. You also send a clear message that you are willing to offer second chances and work to solve problems instead of exact consequences. Every manager eventually develops their own style for dealing with difficult employees, but make sure you keep the basics in mind. Always work to resolve conflict whenever possible, and try to avoid taking the most extreme steps unless it is necessary. Follow your company procedures and keep good records of everything you have done to correct the problem.