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Learn to deal with problem employees

Posted on February 7, 2017 by in Business Management, General Interest, Human Resources, Increasing Teamwork, Management & Leadership Skills, Reducing Turnover with no comments

Learning how to deal with problem employees is part of a manager’s job. With a little finesse and fortitude, you may be able to turn that problem employee into a cooperative, productive employee.

For example, if Sally questions you every time you give her an assignment, you need to know how to respond. All too often, managers resort to the parental style of, "Because I said so." There is a much better way to communicate.

First, believe it or not, it is your job to explain and justify your decisions. You should be able to develop good reasons and arguments for the tasks you are assigning. You can actually take advantage of Sally’s need for explanations. It gives you an opportunity to check out the decisions you are making to make sure they are good ones.

If you have given good explanations and employees still question you, then it is time to simply state that the assignment must be completed as described and ask for their cooperation.

If these tactics fail, you may have to reconsider the individual’s employment. You need to ask yourself, "Is the company getting enough out of their work to justify the time and energy it requires of you?" and "Is the person’s behavior disruptive to the other employees?" If the answers to these questions are yes, it probably is time to replace that individual.

Perhaps your employee is at the other end of the spectrum, like Ed, for example. Ed follows instructions really well – too well. He takes little initiative and doesn’t think things through for himself. You have to guide him through each project, step by step. You wish just once he would pick up the ball and carry it himself. Your expectations for Ed are not being realized, but letting Ed go is not something you really want to do.

First, communicate what your expectations are, and use the times that Ed comes to you for direction as learning opportunities. You can use these times as effective lessons to change Ed’s motivation. Show him how he can find his own information. It may seem easier in the short-term to just tell him what he wants to know, but the long-term effects you will gain will be worth the effort.

Push Ed out of the nest. If you still find Ed too dependent on you, then it is time to send him out on his own. Politely refuse and firmly give him direction. You could say, "Ed, thanks for checking with me, but I am sure you can handle it alone." If Ed still can’t seem to let go of you, then maybe it is time to ask yourself if he is the right person for the job. Perhaps he would be more suited to another position within the company, or maybe Ed needs to be in a different line of work.

It isn’t always easy to deal with problem employees. A manager’s patience can be put to the test when employees rely on them too much or need constant handholding. Thorough explanations and encouragement to become self-directed can keep employees and managers from butting heads.

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