Nothing irks like jerks at work. But some workplace behavior goes beyond being merely annoying. When the actions of “challenging” personality types land you in court, these workers become a liability – in every sense of the word.
Consider these recent cases:
- Employees of the city of North Richmond, Texas taunted co-worker Robert Coffman, saying he was too old to keep up with his work. He sued, and the city settled for $75,000.
- A North Carolina sheriff’s deputy told his new hire about the department’s strict rules against sexual harassment – before grabbing her buttocks, dragging her onto his lap, forcibly kissing her, and offering her a promotion if she let him do it again. She quit, she sued – and she won. Jury verdict: $225,000.
- An African-American temp at a power company was repeated asked racially-tinged questions like, “Do all black people go to bathroom a lot?” She sued the company, which claimed that she wasn’t their employee, but the temp agency’s. The court disagreed, and the case is going to trial.
The good news is that there are steps you can take TODAY that will insulate you from risk … improve productivity … and create a happier workplace. Introducing Jerks at Work — What's an Employer to Do?
Turning your back on difficult employees isn't just a management mistake. It can also create legal trouble. Not only are employees who frequently bump heads with management the ones who are most likely to file lawsuits when they feel they're being treated unfairly, but – as shown above – they’re often the cause of lawsuits themselves.
That's why, when confronted with employees who don't do what's asked, it's best to devise a strategy for making the best of a potentially explosive situation.
Although it may be hard to transform a difficult employee into a warm, friendly ally, you can take the following steps to make it easier for the employee to comply:
1. Confront problems head-on. If you don't like an employee, that person probably feels the same way about you. By clearing the air and calmly acknowledging any ill will, you can help the employee focus on getting the job done.
Use phrases such as this to level with the person: "When I ask you to do something, I need to rely on you. I realize we're very different people, but we can't let that stop us from doing our jobs."
2. Seek confirmation. When giving instructions, don't assume that you're making yourself clear. Ask the employee to explain what you just said and what you expect of him or her.
3. Rehearse. Making simple requests is painless. But if you must explain something more complicated, don't wing it. You may waste time backtracking or jumbling words.
As you rehearse, use the fewest words possible to describe your goal. Once you find a concise way to summarize the outcome you want, write it down and memorize the key phrase that captures the main point.
Jerks at Work is designed specifically to help you deal with challenging workplace behaviors. You’ll get step-by-step advice on what to do – and when to do it. Learn more...
4. Speak and write. To ensure that the employee understands you, assign tasks both orally and in print. Get in the habit of talking with that person and telling him or her what you need. Let the employee ask questions and offer suggestions. Then, follow up soon after the discussion with an e-mail or memo that summarizes what's expected, along with the timetable for the project.
5. Stick to behavior. When managing someone with an attitude problem, don't let the person's personality interfere with the job at hand. Focus on describing the work that you need done.
6. Talk on the employee's turf. If you have a personality conflict with a certain employee, the last thing you should do is make him or her feel "bossed around" when you assign a task. A practical way to encourage such employees to comply is to meet in their offices, not yours. Calling employees into your office to assign a task could instantly put them on the defensive.
Armed with these techniques, you’ll be better able to deal with jerks at work – generating greater productivity … better morale … and fewer lawsuits.
Attorney, author and celebrated speaker Jathan Janove combines humor, legal know-how and common sense to help you craft a strategy to deal with the jerks that lurk at work. In this insightful 75-minute session, you’ll discover:
- How to make jerk-free values part of your corporate culture
- Three specific types of training to combat harassment
- Verbal feedback to a jerk’s offensive behavior
- Documenting workplace jerkiness – when and how
- “Mushroom jerks” – how to expose them to the light
- Seven steps to managing emotional or confrontational jerks
- Due process and progressive discipline
- Jerks who sue – good news and bad news
- … and much more!
- How to Fire an Employee the Legal Way: 6 Termination Guidelines
- 10 Secrets to an Effective Performance Review
- Avoid a big stink: Don't make ADA disability call on your own
- Help managers supervise staff who work from home
- Lock up your company secrets — or lose them
- Ask the attorney -- Your HR questions answered