You know the saying: One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch.
If you’re a manager, you may occasionally encounter a bad apple. So what does a leader do to stop “problem” employees from spreading their negative influence?
That depends on the behavior, says Margaret Morford, author and president of The HR Edge Inc., a management consulting and training company. In an interview with WWJ Newsradio 950, she offered this advice for dealing with a variety of undesirable fruit:
• Slacker. An underperformer needs clear, specific goals. For larger projects, a series of minideadlines can work well. Say, “Tell me as soon as it appears you aren’t going to hit any of the minideadlines.”
• Complainer. Put this individual in charge of a solution, Morford says. Example: “What’s your suggestion?” or “What do you think we should do?”
• Chronically Tardy. This is the employee who straggles in 15 minutes late every day. Morford says that in one case, a manager agreed to move arrival time an hour later, to 9 a.m., but then said the worker would also have to stay an hour later, until 7 p.m. The worker no longer came in late.
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• Sympathy Junkie. With an employee who spends a lot of time moaning around the water cooler, take him aside.
Say, “It sounds like you have a lot going on. I’m not a counselor, but you might need to see a professional stress counselor.” Give him the number for your company’s employee assistance program (EAP). If the habit continues, ask him if he has followed through with the EAP yet, reminding him that you’re not a counselor.
• Change-Resister. One strategy that might urge a foot-dragger toward change is to put her in a teaching role, so she has to get on board to train others.
• Overbearing One. She’s good at achieving results, but lacks people skills.
Say, “I’m putting you in charge of this project team to give you a chance to develop your people skills. I’m looking for a successful outcome, as well as a positive report from those working with you on the project. I’ll be talking to the other team members to find out if they’d be willing to work with you on future projects.”
Tip: After meeting with the employee, follow up in writing to reiterate what you discussed, says Morford. Seeing the issue spelled out in writing makes it more real for the employee, and it sends the signal that the individual can no longer get away with the behavior.
It’s not always easy to confront an employee who’s slipping up, but Troublesome People at Work gives you pointers for identifying when there’s a problem, approaching the worker who's struggling and conducting a successful counseling session to make things better. You’ll learn:
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. If Troublesome People at Work can save you even an hour of supervisory time, it’s already paid for itself.
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