Managing common behavior problems

unruly employeeThere’s no shortage of negative employee behaviors that can have an ill effect on the entire workplace. The problem is when the behavior is not so bad where discipline or termination is in order, but managers must do something. And that something isn’t to drop the problem employee in HR’s lap! Use these tricks of the managerial trade to deal with some of the most irritating employee types.

PRIMA DONNA: She thinks she’s too good to (fill in the blank) just because she’s an exceptional performer.

Manager actions: You need to set this top performer straight. If you want her to complete the duties that she finds beneath her, then by all means tell her this.

Just so there’s no confusion, delineate exactly what you expect her to do. In other words, don’t just tell her she has to start doing the “grunt” work; give her a bulleted list of the tasks you expect her to complete and the frequency with which she is to complete them. Remind her that the duties are part and parcel of the job and that success is not a get-out-of-grunt-work-free card. Express your confidence in her abilities to handle these duties while remaining a high performer.

THE INTERRUPTER: He constantly interrupts your conversations with other employees for no good reason.

Manager actions: There’s an art to putting someone off without making him feel put off, which requires being firm and polite. When his issue does not warrant you to immediately stop what you’re doing and give your attention to him, then boundaries need to be set; explain why he must wait and when he will get his turn. Say something like: “Jane and I are just finishing up resolving a customer’s complaint. We’ll be done in 10 minutes. I’ll come down to your office then.”

People often interrupt due to an inflated sense of self-importance. But in situations where they are actually riddled with self-doubt and they truly believe their issues require immediate attention, then take the extra step to allay their fears that waiting 10 minutes will mean the end of the world.

THE PROCRASTINATOR: She gets her work done, but she always waits until the last minute to get started.

Manager actions: You need to work with her on prioritizing and scheduling her work. Establish a game plan ahead of time. Cut big projects into smaller assignments and set mini-deadlines for her.

Or, give her false deadlines. Nothing drastic, perhaps a day or two earlier than normal; just as long as she still has a reasonable amount of time to complete the task, but also enough time to handle anything that may pop up unexpectedly.