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…

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Like everyone else, we’ve been battered by the recession. We’ve started to turn things around, but our employees are pretty beat up by a tough business environment and a couple of layoffs we’ve had to do. Morale is poor. The general feeling is that we’re paddling like mad just to stay in the same place. Any ideas for inexpensive but meaningful ways to show staff that we appreciate their hard work and sacrifice during hard times?—Steve T., North Carolina
Our company has a MySpace page, to which all employees were invited to join. Soon after, one of our employees posted on his own MySpace page a derogatory comment about a co-worker. Naturally, that comment showed up on our MySpace page, and now the co-worker wants us to do something about it. But what? I'm at a loss about how or whether we can do anything. Suggestions?--Anonymous
You repeatedly articulate goals and point workers in the right direction. They know what’s at stake and they understand your vision. They just don’t know what to do next. Beware of communicating on a macro level.
You employ lots of people earning low wages. They face demanding jobs and limited opportunities for advancement. So what’s to motivate them?
Eric, a manager at a financial services company in Florida with 19 employees, discusses the dilemma of letting people work from home.
One of our employees has come to me with a request that makes me nervous. She wants to invite co-workers to attend Bible study sessions on our company’s premises. The gatherings would take place before working hours in a staff picnic area on our grounds. We don’t have any kind of policy addressing this. Are there any legal or other issues I should consider before I decide what to do?—SJM, Fla.

We may have to terminate an employee who has been with us for more than 10 years and has worked with people throughout the organization. When he goes, people are going to notice. Due to the nature of the situation, I don't want to issue a detailed explanation to the rest of the staff. Can I just go with "_ _ _ _ is no longer with the company," or will that just whip the rumor mill into overdrive? Are there any realistic alternatives?—Noreen, S.F.

OSHA has announced that a Texas manufacturer faces $108,000 in proposed penalties for failing to abate safety violations after a worker died from an electrical shock. In January 2008, OSHA flagged six violations against JD Manufacturing, doing business as Arrow Waste.

It’s becoming a common problem: An employer discovers disparaging comments on an employee’s Facebook, MySpace or personal blog. Maybe a post reveals internal company information. Can the employer take disciplinary action? A series of new laws and evolving legal doctrines have placed limits on how far an employer can encroach on the private and off-site activities of its employees.

Soon after Gary Lizalek was hired at a Wisconsin medical firm, he informed the company that he believed, as a matter of religious faith, that he was three separate beings. The company fired all three Lizaleks. He sued, saying the company failed to accommodate his religious beliefs.