Tips for Handling Problem Employees

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Problem Employee

When confronted with problematic employees, the first thing to do is assess the situation. If you take time to collect the information about the “who, what, where, why and how’s” of the problem it will make it easier to find a balanced approach to the best solution.  When confronted with difficult situations, consider the following tips for handling the situation with finesse.

Try to anticipate problems before they arise and try to de-escalate situations once they are in motion.

Most people can relate to the following observation: when a toddler doesn’t get his way, he puts on a frown face and pouts. If pouting doesn’t work he’ll try crying. If crying doesn’t work, he’ll give screaming a shot.  If all the other options don’t get a response, the screaming usually does.

How to Manage Problem Employees: A Step-by-Step Guide for Turning Difficult Employees into High PerformersUnfortunately, some employees work the same way. If someone even makes the slightest negative remark, know that it could lead to a bigger problem if ignored.  Dealing with it at the offset can go far to calm a potentially difficult face off.

Never fight anger with anger.

It’s human nature to feel angry when someone is acting unreasonable. However, leading with anger isn’t professional or effective.

Be calm and take time to investigate the problem. Give the angry employee some time to cool down and set a time to re-visit the problem if possible.  This gives you additional time to gather facts and gives the employee time to become more rational.

Don’t ignore the rebellious employee just because s/he performs well.

In the movies, the characters that fall between rebellious and kindness seem to be the most popular.

Rebellious behavior may work for Hollywood, but it should be left out of the workplace.

If you have an employee who consistently breaks or ignores company rules, you have to deal with it right away. Even if the employee is a top performer for A Survival Guide to Managing Employees from Hell: Handling Idiots, Whiners, Slackers, and Other Workplace Demonsthe company, procedures are set for a reason.  Calmly and assertively explain your position.

Pay close attention to inconsistent attendance which might be caused by a deeper problem.

When an employee has habitual attendance issues, it is important to find out why.

Coming in late or calling out too often could have a deeper meaning.  If the employee is having a personal problem that doesn’t seem to go away, you might need to take action.  Make the employee aware of any services available through the company.

Know your limits.

You will not be able to anticipate or solve every problem.

If a problem cannot be solved or a person refuses to change, keeping records of what you tried along the way will help you document the situation if it leads to disciplinary action.

Although not all work place problems will result in a happy Hollywood ending, anticipating a plan of action for problematic employees ahead of time will help you confidently handle the situation which hopefully ends in an amicable resolution.

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Joe Schembri

Guest Post: Joe Schembri works with Villanova University and their online HR certification programs. In addition to HR certificates, Villanova also offers a Master's Degree in Human Resources that can be completed online.

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