Dealing with Problem Employees

January 28, 2014 5:00 pm

Finding the perfect employee can be difficult. There’s always a risk that they won’t be the right fit, but it’s a risk that all business owners must take. But what if you do hire a problem employee? How can you tell if your employee is stealing from the company, or bad mouthing the company? What do you do with a bad fit, a frequently absent employee, an indecisive employee, or someone not taking the company’s rules seriously?

Not only can problem employees cause serious issues within the company such as poor morale and lack of productivity, but it can also be the source of a lot of clientele complaints.

The first step to dealing with difficult employees is to make sure that you don’t act too quickly. It’s important to evaluate and access the situation. Often just taking your employee aside and talking to them can help.

Business Team Signing Contract

Make sure you have all the facts before you go in pitchforks at the ready! With situations such as employees stealing information or copying someone else’s work, it is best to gather all the evidence you can to ensure that you’re not going to be accusing someone innocent! Blaming someone of stealing from the company is a very serious accusation and if wrong, could lead your company into some very tricky legal problems!

Make sure you always deal with the behavior rather than attacking the person on a personal level. Don’t use sentences such as, “you are not being a team player.” Rather, say something like, “I need everyone here to work as a team.”

Give your employee (as long as it’s not something too serious) a chance to redeem themselves. You may find after your talk that the problem resolves.

So who are the most common problem employees?

The one who looks good on paper

Some people can look like the perfect candidate on paper, however, it’s easy to stretch the truth on CVs. Employers may often find that employees just are not the right fit. So how can you avoid hiring the wrong person?

Introducing a trial period or internship can be a brilliant way of getting to know your new potential employee. A trial can show you how well they work with the team, whether they have the right experience and whether they are going to be an asset or not.

The absentee

The employee that is always disappearing, whether it’s sick leave, late arrivals, early departures or an abundance of holidays can be a real problem. Employers don’t want to spend all their time looking for well-needed employees to find that they’re just going to vanish every minute! Obviously, there are certain circumstances where absence is unavoidable and it’s important to ensure that you differentiate between the two. Talk to your employee in private about their absence, and investigate whether it’s really inescapable or not. Make sure not to sound accusing, your employee may be experiencing personal problems. Be emphatic. Remember, employees are entitled to some leave days!

The law-breaker

Smirnoff_Vodka_375ml_bottle_(standing_up)They may be great at their job, but if they’re breaking the law or workplace policies, such as drinking on the job, it’s important that it’s dealt with. They may be getting you clients left, right and center, but ignoring problems as serious as this could jeopardize your company and even put you or your employees in danger!

The pessimist

Employees that are constantly complaining. Whether it’s about their fellow colleagues, or the business itself, these employees need to be dealt with quickly! Negativity can not only cause poor morale amongst the team and affect productivity, but can even lose your new and loyal clients. It’s important that you don’t just go on rumors. If someone says someone else is being negative, you must first find out for yourself if they are. The person who told you may the actual pessimist! Once you establish who is the pessimist, take them aside and explain to them why it’s important not to bad mouth or gossip. Avoid outright accusing, such as “you’re negative”. Rather, say something like, “negativity amongst employees can be upsetting to both colleagues and clients.”

The thief

Theft can be detrimental to your business so it’s important to act fast, but you must ensure that you have all the facts and proof. You don’t want to accidentally accuse the wrong person! It’s a good idea to seek a solicitor’s advice about what steps you should take. You may also want to invest in a security system, such as CCTV.

The hesitant

An employee who can’t decide can be very troublesome. They spend all day wondering whether they should do this or that, and then miss the deadline. Employers should establish a strict deadline and strike rule. If an employee is consistently missing those deadlines, they are probably not right for the company.

The competitor

A little bit of competition is healthy and can even boost morale, however, it’s important that your employees don’t become too opposing. The competitor can often become aggressive and is not a team player. The way in which to deal with this type of employee is to try and get them focused on winning as a team, and awarding them as a team.Man holding stack of paperwork with hand on calculator with long

The drama queen

If something does not go right, the drama queen will panic, and start acting as though the world is ending. This can have a very negative effect on other employees and is not particularly professional. If your drama queen starts to overreact, put a stop to it immediately and firmly. Give them a few minutes to calm down and then explain to them what kind of effect their behavior has on the rest of the team.

The socialite

Social media sites can be a real time waster at work. Often employers can spend more time updating their status than working! Whether it’s cyber abuse about another colleague, bad mouthing the business online or simply a form of procrastination, it’s important that it stops. A lot of workplaces have actually blocked social sites, so that employees cannot access them during work hours. Alternatively, tighter management can also decrease time spent online!

The hothead

Their behavior is aggressive and unprofessional. They become angry with other employees when things don’t go according to plan. What you must not do is shout back, or cower down. The best way to deal with a hothead is to be assertive. Speak firmly and calmly to them when they have an outburst. Make sure that they know you are boss, without raising your voice.

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