How should you respond? Rather than becoming entangled in a debate about the employee's dysfunctional attitude, address the situation strictly as a behavioral problem. That way, it's not only easier to resolve, but also a better way to make a case for dismissal.
It's not always easy to confront an employee who's slipping up... Troublesome People at Work: How to Coach, Counsel and Turn Around Problem EmployeesYour first step is to document the behavior. Write down specific verbal and physical behaviors and actions that concern you, hurt team morale, damage productivity or reflect badly on the organization. Don't forget to record nonverbal behaviors, such as rolling eyes, clenching fists and staring into space.
Narrow the issue to the precise problem. Identify exactly what type of behavior the attitude has caused. This list may help:
- Disruptive or explosive conduct
- Inattention to work
- Insensitivity to others
- Negative/cynical posture
- Surly/inconsiderate/rude talk
- Excessive socializing
Record the frequency of such misconduct, plus how it affects work flow and colleagues' performance. List good business reasons why the behavior must end.
You have enough to do – you shouldn’t have to pick up the slack for employees who aren’t pulling their own weight. Thanks to this problem-solving guide, you’ll be able to reclaim your own time. You’ll rest assured that your workers are doing what they were hired to do. Troublesome People at Work: How to Coach, Counsel and Turn Around Problem EmployeesThe 4-Step Discussion Plan
Expert HR trainer Amy Anderson recommends that your discussions with troublesome people focus on these four points:
1. the 'What'
- Precisely pinpoint the problem to the employee.
- Focus on specific task outcomes and/or behaviors.
- Use examples.
- Reference previous conversations.
Another approach: “How do you think things are going with your backlog and deadlines this month? I know you’ve been worried about meeting our department standard.” (Actively listen.) “What do you think the problem is? Why is it happening?”
2. the Impact
- Identify the negative impact (on quality, productivity, service, others, goals, etc.).
- Gain agreement that a problem exists.
- Discuss future consequences if the problem continues.
Another approach: “What do you think happens when these deadlines are missed? How do you think it impacts service?” (Actively listen.) “I know this is difficult and I have confidence you’ll take care of this, but failure to improve will lead to disciplinary action up to and including termination. Just so you’re aware, I do need to document our conversation.”
3. the 'How'
- Generate solutions to solve the problem.
- Decide on the best course of action.
- Gain commitment from the employee on his or her role in solving the problem.
Another approach: “Let’s brainstorm ideas on what you can do to meet the standard. I’m here to support you in any way I can. I want you to be successful.” (Actively listen, reinforce the employee's workable ideas, add your own ideas and confirm the plan.) “These are good action steps. Can you summarize them in an e-mail this afternoon?”
4. the 'When'
- Establish a follow-up strategy.
- Clearly determine how and when you and the employee will review progress.
- Set specific dates for check-in meetings.
- Recognize improvements as they happen (even small steps).
Another approach: “Let’s meet regularly to go over your progress. How frequently do you think is workable?” (Remain open to the employee's suggestion but add your input as necessary.) “Let’s go ahead and put that on our calendars.”
Don’t think it’s worth it to single out a struggling worker and take time out of your busy schedule to help? Consider the potential results if you DON’T confront problems:
Still not convinced Troublesome People at Work can help you improve your organization? Think about this: How much is an hour of your time worth? How much does your most difficult worker earn? Add these two together and you’ll get the cost of an hour of supervision.
- Loss of productivity. Poor performers do only about a third of the work of average employees.
- Loss of business. Clients who have to deal with difficult employees may take their business somewhere else.
- Loss of time. It can take you twice as long to supervise a poor performer.
- Loss of talent. If your other employees don’t think you’re managing well, they might find other work.
- Loss of self-esteem. Managers who blame themselves for workplace problems can feel less self-confident.
- Rule violations. Certain behaviors can put employees at risk.
If Troublesome People at Work can save you even an hour of supervisory time, it’s already paid for itself. And remember, it can even save you the high cost of a termination-related lawsuit. Get your copy today!
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