Some employees don’t take direction well. They ignore their supervisors’ orders and just do things the way they think is best. Then their supervisors have to listen to complaints from co-workers, customers and anyone else affected.
One approach turns such employees around: Insist that the employee sign on to a performance improvement plan. Require him to come up with goals and then outline how he will reach them. Tell him you want to meet regularly to assess progress.
If he refuses to cooperate, document that refusal. You can then safely terminate the employee for insubordination.
Recent case: Ray Lewis worked in IT at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. His supervisors got many complaints from the scientists for whom Lewis was tasked with providing IT services. Most complaints cited his poor attitude and refusal to grant access to portions of the computer system they needed.
Lewis, for his part, believed that he was right to limit their access under university security rules.
Lewis received a performance evaluation that criticized hisand judgment in dealing with the employees he served. His boss told him to prepare a performance improvement plan. Lewis dragged his feet.
When the supervisor set a final deadline, Lewis submitted a plan that essentially declared he would continue to do his job the way he saw fit and that he would continue to use his interpretation of university rules. The university fired Lewis for refusing to cooperate with his boss.
He sued, alleging he had been fired from a public service job without due process.
The court didn’t buy his argument and instead concluded he had been terminated for refusing to cooperate with a supervisor’s work-related request. (Lewis v. University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, No. 11-40456, 5th Cir., 2011)
- With no explanation for firing, man files reverse-bias lawsuit
- OK to suspend employee who has been arrested if alleged violation would compromise safety
- Document misconduct probe, just in case of lawsuit
- Need to discipline employee? Prepare to back it up with contemporaneous records
- Good-faith treatment for all is good policy, and good protection against lawsuits, too