Seven Proactive Steps to Take to Deal With a Problem Employee
Employees must remain motivated if they are to perform to their maximum capabilities. Negative attitudes and behaviors not only impact personal performance, but left unchecked can spread like a cancer through the entire unit. It is essential that managers identify and address these problems as quickly as possible in order to minimize their overall impact.
When managers identify a problem, the natural tendency is to directly confront the employee and place him or her in a defensive posture. The natural reaction of the employee is to exhibit fear of repercussions and punishment for his or her behaviors and attitude. While this may be emotionally satisfying to the manager, it does not move him or her any closer to a solution. In fact, the solution may be even further away than before the employee is confronted.
It is important for managers to deal with negative behaviors and attitudes in a factual and objective fashion. By remaining emotionally and personally detached, managers will be more able to pinpoint the cause and identify acceptable paths to a productive solution.
When dealing with a negative employee, the manager must approach the individual with an open mind and remain free of personal bias and emotion that may taint the process. The following steps can be used to successfully rectify the problem.
Identify the Problem
The initial step in dealing with employee negativity is to formally recognize that there is in fact a problem requiring corrective action. The problem may be initially indicated by a decrease in performance or by a remark or complaint made by an associate or customer.
Once a problem is identified and is verified to exist, the manager needs to examine and document the extent of the problem along with possible implications and ramifications.
Talk to Employee About the Problem
Once managers have examined and documented the extent of the problem, they need to meet with the employee and objectively get the problem out on the table. This presentation should be factual and free of emotion, finger-pointing or assignment of blame. Such subjectivity will only inflame the situation, create barriers to a solution, and place the employee on the defensive.
Allow the Employee to Provide Input
The employee should be given adequate opportunity to provide their input. While he or she may be allowed to vent any frustrations, managers must keep the discussion as free of emotion and subjectivity as possible. Both the manager and employee should work together to identify the sources of the problems in a factual manner.
Identify the Source of the Problem
Often employees are so involved with and close to the problem that they are unable to look at it objectively. By remaining calm and at arm’s length, the manager should be able to pinpoint the root causes behind the problem. As often the employee will only exhibit symptoms of the problem, it is up to the manager to probe more deeply in order to uncover the problem’s causes.
Identify Potential Solutions
Once the problem is adequately identified and defined, the manager and employee then brainstorm to identify all potential solutions that are available to remedy the problem.
Again, when problems are approached in a calm, objective and factual manner, the fear of repercussion is diminished. This allows the employee to be more open to the possibility of an acceptable solution.
Agree Upon a Plan of Action
After the manager and employee have had an opportunity to brainstorm all potential solutions to the problem, proper time should be taken to carefully review each. Some will be revealed to be impractical for obvious reasons, while others may provide paths to concrete resolution of the problem.
Both parties should agree on the best option. Once chosen, a specific plan should be detailed and agreed upon. In this fashion, the employee is empowered to solve his or her problem and is accountable for implementing the plan and the solution.
Monitor Solution and Provide Feedback
Managers should actively monitor the employee’s progress in carrying out the plan to resolve their problem.
Managers should provide feedback to the employee on the acceptability of his or her work to resolve the problem. If they are meeting or exceeding the plan, praise should be given accordingly. Conversely, if he or she is failing to meet the goals of the plan, the appropriate punishments should be administered. The goal of the manager is to work with the employee to rectify the problem and eliminate the negative behavior.
If and when these steps fail to rectify the problem, the manager may have no other recourse than to terminate the employee.
Excerpt: Negative Workplace Behaviors: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 18.95 USD
Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
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