Managing employees can be a wonderful experience when you have employees who understand the importance of being team players, who follow through on assignments, and who maintain a level of professionalism in the workplace.
I would argue that most employees understand these unspoken rules within the workplace. Most employees are interested in growing their careers, contributing to the company, getting along with their co-workers, and doing a good job. But from time to time, you may be faced with an employee who is not aware, (or doesn’t care), when their behavior or actions crosses a line.
As a manager, here are some things that you may want to keep in the forefront of your mind and address with your staff should these issues occur:
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The Attitude Problem: Do you have an employee in your workplace who is so negative that it affects the morale of your other employees? Negativity from a co-worker can not only cause turmoil, affect productivity, and create job dissatisfaction for your other employees, it could result in your losing your best staff. Always speak with any employee who is being inappropriately combative, cynical or dismissive. Try to find out what their underlying issues are and whether their outbursts have anything to do with their job dissatisfaction. Sometimes making your employee aware of the behavior and how it affects others will help to resolve the issue.
The Office Romance: We spend most of our time in the office, so it’s natural that an occasional office romance may blossom. It’s actually quite common in fact. Unfortunately, a line is sometimes crossed when the relationship is between a supervisor and his or her employee, or between two co-workers within the same department or division.
Supervisor and employee romances are fraught with legal issues too numerous to touch on in this article. They should be avoided at all costs. Co-worker romances which may seem harmless, could backfire if the relationship ends and the co-workers are still working on projects together or sit in close proximity to each other.
Productivity and staff morale can go out the window in these cases. Although you can’t mandate that your employees not be involved with their co-workers, you can certainly be sure to make your standards of professionalism clear to all of your employees. You’ll also want to immediately address any instances where it appears that your co-workers’ relationships are spilling over into the office. Kissing, hand holding, and romantic talk should not be allowed as it not only makes other employees uncomfortable, but it is unprofessional in a business setting.
Inappropriate Comments: How often have you heard an off color or downright offensive joke in the workplace, or a comment that clearly crosses the line? You want to foster a workplace culture that is inclusive and free from harassment. Don’t allow your staff to make statements that are offensive or inappropriate in any way. Address comments that you hear immediately and be sure to follow up on concerns that your employees may bring to your attention.
Unprofessional Dress: Managers oftentimes assume that there is no need to discuss a specific dress code when hiring new staff because they believe that their employees should understand what is considered appropriate dress or not.
Conversely, you may have an employee that believes that they are dressing appropriately because they assume that if they were not, that you would have told them so. If your expectation is that for business reasons, employees can’t wear sneakers to work, shorts, or open toed shoes, tell them so and explain your rationale behind the decision. You’ll need to make sure that your dress policy is consistently applied with all staff, (and always put it in writing).
The Untrustworthy/Unreliable Employee: Stealing from workplace, creating conflict with other employees, coming in late, (or not at all), are all signs of an employee who can’t be trusted. As a manager, you must address these issues immediately and determine whether further management counseling, a suspension or termination is in order.
Addressing workplace issues when they occur, and clearly communicating and managing staff expectations is the key to ensuring that the workplace is one that is productive, professional, and even fun.
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