People Management

With some employees, it isn’t a matter of ability, it’s a matter of attitude. And while you can’t control someone’s horrible personality, you can decide how you’re going to respond. Use these scripts and strategies to confront problem employees and effectively manage employee discipline so you can bring motivating back to the forefront of your workday.

The first rule of people management is not to let one bad apple spoil your whole bunch. Difficult people can put a strain on the productive members of your team.

Make the most of your human capital. Browse our articles on the good, the bad and the ugly of People Management…

We just interviewed a candidate who would be a great addition to our call center staff. He has the experience, and most important, seems to have the personality for the job. Only one problem: He has one of those piercings next to his eyebrow. I don’t care, and his potential supervisor doesn’t care, but I’m pretty sure our president will not like it one bit. He’s pretty conservative, and so is our company generally. My question is, who should I talk to about this—the guy we want to hire (tell him to lose the eyebrow thing) or the president (tell him to loosen up)?—Diedre, Neb.
When faced with a poor-performing or disruptive employee, it’s easy for supervisors to play the wait-and-see game and simply hope the situation will improve. But problems rarely solve themselves. And that’s especially true with problem employees. The best method? Meet with employees right when you spot problem behavior or performance—don’t wait.
You know what you expect from your employees. But do they know what you expect from them?
Q. What lessons should employers take from the Supreme Court’s decision in City of Ontario v. Quon? That’s the case about the texting police officer. We want to ban personal texting at work.
When you talk with employees about their performance reviews, beware of using common phrases that can unintentionally communicate the wrong message, or come across as too negative or personal. Certain phrases can kill employee morale, weaken productivity or open up the organization to a discrimination lawsuit. Avoid the following phrases...

Francena Smith will return to her former job at Kraft Foods’ Maxwell House division in Jacksonville following an arbitrator’s decision. Smith filed an EEOC gender discrimination claim alleging she was disciplined more harshly than several male workers who were also involved in incidents at the plant that caused contamination of the coffee.

Here’s some food for thought: Failing to stop an employee from harassing women and men alike may be legally acceptable, but is probably still ill-advised. An employer that allows such conduct may escape legal liability, but that tolerance may make the workplace unattractive to good employees. Plus, it probably won’t be as productive as it would be with good anti-harassment policies in place.

“If HR stays on the transaction side, we’ll be out of business in 10 years,” said Conrad Venter, global head of HR at Deutsche Bank. “Business leaders will say.… ‘Where’s the value?’” and choose to outsource those transactional duties."
Our employees are by far the “gossipiest” group I have ever worked with. Rumors fly around the shop floor and office at lightning speed. These people dish the dirt on each other, and they’re always “learning” that we’ve just lost a big customer or we’re going to cut hours or someone is about to get fired. Of course, most of these rumors are untrue. I try to put out the fires as fast as possible, but I’m wondering if there’s a better overall way to put an end to this weird culture. Has anyone else faced this problem? Any advice on what I can do so gossip isn’t such a distraction?—Pete, Bay Area
If a star employee has ever surprised you during an exit interview by saying she had been dissatisfied with her job for a long time, you’re not alone. It’s common to find a vast divergence between employee satisfaction and management’s take on the situation. Managers frequently make five big mistakes that can send your valued employees packing. Luckily, they’re easy to fix.