Addressing your Problem Employees

Unless your business has less than ten employees, it’s pretty unlikely that you don’t have at least one problem employee. Their problematic behavior can range from being consistently a few minutes late to actually disrupting the flow of your business. In a perfect world, these problem employees wouldn’t exist in the workplace and productivity would be at its max. However, it’s unreasonable to simply fire any employee who causes you problems. For one, your turnover rate would be through the roof. Furthermore, it’s important to acknowledge that these offenses your problem employees are committing may not always be character flaws on their part, but rather a lack of preparation on your company’s part. Below you’ll find ways to identify your problem employees and adjust their behavior.

Identify the Problem

As discussed above, the definition of a problematic employee can vary widely. Some are easy to identify, such as highly negative employees or those with a high number of unexcused absences, while others might be a little more subtle. The best way to identify which of your employees are problematic is by first identifying what departments aren’t performing at 100% and evaluating the employees within that unit. Additionally, keeping a good rapport with your managers and supervisors will give you a good insight into how their employees are doing (assuming none of your supervisors are the problem employees, of course.) Once you’ve successfully identified your problem employee(s) you can begin implementing steps to solve the issue.

Manage the Risk

These tips are intended for employees who you feel are an asset to your company in some ways, but need to work on certain aspects of their performance in others. It does not mean that you shouldn’t fire any employee, for any reason, ever. Rather you want to make sure it’s worth putting the time and effort into adjusting their behavior, or if it will all be for naught. Use your best judgment when deciding if you should help an employee improve or if there is no hope and it’s time to let them go.

Attendance Policy

Most companies have an attendance policy of some sort in place, but if your problem employee is having difficulty complying with these guidelines, revisit the policy at your next company-wide meeting. Let your team know you’ll be cracking down on attendance, and be sure to follow through. You might have a sales employee who does really well closing deals, but shows up for work thirty minutes late every day. They know they’re valuable so they don’t believe they’ll get disciplined. However, this can be a bad influence on your new employees. Everybody should be treated equally, regardless of whether they have “paid their dues” or not.

Performance Reviews

You should already be holding regular performance reviews with your department, but if you’re finding there are problem employees popping up more frequently, it’s possible you’ll have to reevaluate how they’re conducted. Both supervisor and employee should walk away from a review with an idea of how they can improve and have a specific plan to set in motion. Don’t let your performance reviews be an excuse to tell the employee everything they’re doing wrong. Instead, create a dialogue and see if there is something you might be doing that is causing your employee to be problematic.

Disciplinary Process

Polish your disciplinary process so it’s clear and concise. This leaves no room for interpretation for your employees, so they will know exactly how many offenses they can commit before they are let go. Keep in mind that your employee should have a complete understanding of why they are being disciplined and what they need to do to improve. If you sit down to fire an employee, ultimately they should have an idea that it’s coming. If not, you definitely want to reevaluate your disciplinary process and see where the confusion arose.    

Supervisor Training

Often times the reason problem employees go so long without their actions being addressed is because their supervisors either don’t identify them as the problem or they don’t take steps to correct poor behavior the moment it starts to occur. Have your supervisors undergo special training that will prepare them for dealing with problem employees and you should see a drastic improvement. If your supervisors aren't comfortable addressing employees directly, then maybe being a supervisor isn't right for them. After all, you shouldn’t be expected to deal with every individual that isn’t performing at 100%, and have to be comfortable having these difficult conversations. 

Stay tuned for a blog next week that covers what your company can do to be proactive and prevent cultivating problem employees.