How to Avoid Cultivating Problem Employees

Last week I wrote a blog about how to identify your problem employees and “fix” their behavior. This week I want to go over the best practices to be proactive so you’re not unintentionally cultivating these problem employees. Keep in mind even if you follow these steps to the T you will likely still have employees who are apathetic, argumentative, and even hostile. However, this will help prevent your otherwise quality employees from becoming problematic over the years. Following these steps will not only keep your employees focused and passionate about their work but also assist in employee retention.

Clarify Expectations

The first step to preventing problem employees from emerging is to ensure all of your expectations are clearly communicated. Everything ranging from attendance policies to dress codes should be understood by everyone whom the respective procedures affect. Don’t simply offer your new hires a handbook that covers these guidelines and trust they read it cover to cover. Instead, review them regularly, adjust practices that are outdated or unfair, and make sure your managers and supervisors communicate them regularly to their teams. If your employees are reminded of your expectations for them regularly, they will be less likely to break them.   

Offer Respect

It might sound obvious, but offering respect is the best way to receive it in turn. If you lead by example, your employees will follow suit. When they see you show up on time, dressed professionally, and treating your colleagues with respect, this will further impress upon them how to act at work. Instilling fear or intimidation in your employees might make them behave how you want them to when you’re around, but the moment your office door is closed, or you take off early for the weekend, productivity will drop and so will their desire to behave. 

Request Feedback

You should have a system in place for your employees to offer feedback about how things are run. Take these comments seriously, and follow up on them whenever possible. It’s unreasonable to enact every request that is made, but explaining why certain popular ideas aren’t feasible will show your employees that their voices are heard and they have a say in how things are run. 

Research Pay Practices

Sometimes employees can become disgruntled if they feel like they aren’t being paid fairly. Researching your competitors and making sure your pay practices are in line with similar jobs in your community is necessary so you don’t fall behind. If an employee discovers that he or she is making significantly less than a friend who works the same job elsewhere, they are probably going to start putting in less effort. This is one of the biggest ways to cultivate problem employees.

Reward Good Behavior

Positive reinforcement is going to go a lot further than negative. Similar to what was discussed under the “offer respect” heading, punishing poor behavior won’t change how your employees act in the long run. Of course, this is still necessary at times, but counter it by having incentives to work hard. These incentives could include raises, parties, extra vacation time, or the ever-popular “free food.”

Train Supervisors

The last thing you need to do is make sure your supervisors have the ability to detect when an employee starts to become problematic. This way they can take the steps necessary to prevent this from happening right away. If your company is fairly sizable, you might not notice an employee as they start to slack off or become unmotivated. When you have a team of supervisors who you trust to be vigilant and aware of this issue, coupled with the tools and tips listed above, you can make sure you have virtually no problem employees within your company.