Select Page

It’s a familiar refrain for business owners, or anyone who’s ever worked in management: There’s an employee who just isn’t up to snuff. Maybe he or she is difficult to get along with, or lacks certain higher skills required for the position, or just isn’t a fit for the company. No matter what the cause, these situations can make the workday unnecessarily difficult for everyone involved. Here are a few tips on how to deal with problem employees.

Keep Lines of Communication Open

You shouldn’t ignore the situation, but try not to exacerbate it either. Before calling the employee out for poor behavior, listen to what they have to say. There may be an easy solution to whatever’s causing the problem, or they might have a personal issue that’s distracting them from doing their best work.

Give Specific Feedback

Instead of resorting to generalizations, such as “You’re difficult to work with” or “You’re not a team player,” give precise examples of the behavior you’ve witnessed so that they know exactly what the problem may be. This will send the clear message that you’ve been paying attention and have a strong interest in improving the situation.

Keep A Written Record

It’s easier to point to consistent problem behavior if the issues have been well-documented. Let the employee know that the paperwork will be on file for later reference if the difficulties continue.

Be Clear About Consequences

During the initial chat, make it clear that repeat offenses will not be tolerated. Lay out a specific plan. For example: “If we continue to hear negative reports, the next step will be X,” and don’t back down from whatever lines have been drawn.

Know Your Limits

In some instances, the employee might be dealing with severe psychological issues that are beyond your skill to handle. If you’re middle management, alert the higher-ups to the situation, and look into the company policy to see if there’s any additional help available for the employee.

Be Prepared To Take Difficult Steps

Terminating employees is one of the most difficult duties that management can face, but it’s necessary if no other solution can be found. Know that you took all the necessary steps toward creating a more hospitable workplace for everyone involved.