Supporting Your Business Success
through HR Excellence

Difficult Employees
Difficult Employees

There’s Always One (At Least)!

There’s Always One (At Least)!

Wouldn’t you just love to have a team of well-behaved fantastic performers who make your life a joy each day you are at work?

This could be called a ‘manager’s dream’ but the reality is often quite the opposite. You are busy with work, have targets to hit and objectives to achieve and then there is your team. Some are doing their job and doing it well, others might even be exceeding your expectations and then there are those that just always create issues or do not perform to the level that you’d like them to.

As a manager, you are constantly faced with a decision of whether to deal with them or to just get on with work as long as overall the team is achieving what it needs to achieve and the business is moving forward. This can seem like a good plan in the short run but 9/10 times those little issues with performance or conduct, grow into more serious problems that then require an investment of time and possibly resources to resolve. Prioritising dealing with minor issues might seem counter intuitive but when it comes to people management, this is actually one of the core principles that you should adopt.

So what should you do? Of course, every situation is different and you will need to use judgement on how to best approach it, but there are some basic principles that you can apply to each circumstance. Here’s a quick list of just 4 top tips that you should incorporate into your management practice that will help you start eliminating unacceptable behaviour and performance from your teams:

1. Always notice concerning behaviour/performance

Any behaviour/performance that is unacceptable often starts with small actions that seem fairly harmless but that effectively provide a building ground for more serious problems. If your employee missed a deadline, came to work late, lost their temper slightly with a colleague, failed to acknowledge a client request – everything, despite how small or trivial it might seem, impacts on your business and therefore should always be addressed. Always noticing things that could be done better will help you create a culture where things are done better or at least to the standard that you think is acceptable.

2. Follow it up in writing

Often managers think that they don’t want to put things in writing because they don’t want to be so formal. This is absolutely understandable but there is a misconception here that equates written communication to formal communication. E-mails are a normal form of communication in most businesses and most managers will use emails to keep regular contact with their employees. The trick here is to communicate with the employee about something that is concerning in the same informal written manner. The email addressing behaviour or performance can keep the same tone and approach as other communication with the employee and the only difference here will be the actual topic of the email. Use the same language and expressions that you would use normally communicating to your employees and then such follow up will feel like a normal part of your ongoing communication with your team.

3. Make sure to bring it up again if necessary

Whilst the email that the employee was sent was informal, it has created a record and therefore is available as reference in the future. If your employee improves their behaviour/performance and you never have to bring the previous occurrence again, then this record becomes irrelevant. However, should the employees’ behaviour not improve as expected, then having a record of issues being raised before will become invaluable in moving things along.

4. Follow through

We must admit that we see a lack of follow through when dealing with performance or conduct all of the time in our line of work. Managers are understandably busy and often another priority takes the place of having to deal with something that might not seem as urgent or important on the day. We are often approached by clients to help them deal with situations where under-performance or unacceptable conduct have been going on for a while and have not been addressed, until finally it all becomes too much.

Without sounding too ‘cliché’, the best advice is to just deal with the situations as and when they arise. Ignoring things will only normally give rise to more serious issues and then resolution will not be as quick and painless.

If you found yourself in a place where perhaps things have escalated to a point where you can no longer ignore it and you are not sure of what you should do, give us a call and we will be happy to help you get back on track. Or even better, if you start noticing behaviours that you are not happy with, talk to us and we can help you do all that is possible to prevent it from happening again.