Handle an insubordinate employee

When an employee is insubordinate, it’s important to address it right away. Take a stand and make it clear that you will not tolerate the behavior. Here’s what to do:

  • Set up a meeting with the employee. Never address the issue in front of others, no matter how severe the insubordination may be.
  • Discuss the behavior. Find out the background information. Though insubordination is never acceptable, you may uncover issues that help explain the behavior. For example, what you deem as insubordination is simply an employee’s misunderstanding of the rules.
  • Establish guidelines for moving forward. Be direct and detail specifically what you expect from the employee. Explain that this is the employee’s first warning, and go over the consequences if it happens again.
  • Move on. Don’t hold the issue over the employee’s head. Instead, work to build a positive relationship and insubordination is less likely to be a problem.
  • Follow through. If the employee is insubordinate in the future, be sure to follow through with the discipline cited for each offense. That builds your credibility and authority among other staffers.

— Adapted from “How to Address Insubordination in a Staff,” Luke Arthur, http://smallbusiness.chron.com.