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Another important concept in steps toward dealing with problem employees is the term coaching, which if done correctly can be a positive tool to bring a problem employee back into productivity. Coaching usually involves one or more managers sitting down with the individual, pointing out both positive and negative issues he or she may be having, an allowance for the individual to have input in the concerns and should always involve a positive perspective where the individual is praised as much as he or she is guided regarding his or her misconduct. Coaching is a positive form of discipline, though it can be an active part of overall employee training as well and will likely be better received if it is and if it has a history as part of the culture of the business. Coaching can also take place as part of a consulting process that offers employees personal growth and development training with an outside (consulting) party, either in groups or individually. (DelPo & Guerin, 2010, p. 106) Implementing coaching for the first time can be difficult but it is usually worth the effort as most people will be made better for it and if they are not they might not be the right fit for your business and/or their role in your business.
Kushnir offers a comprehensive set of suggestions for managers and employers who are dealing with great employees that simply do not interact well with others and therefore undermine the business in ways that reduce others productivity and can even create a hostile work environment.
Hold employees accountable for what they do and how they do it. "Managers must be willing to risk losing the employee," he explained. "To not hold everyone accountable for their behavior undermines the company's values and turns them into meaningless platitudes."
Recognize team performance, not just star performance. Top performers often get recognition that can overshadow the hard work of others who supported them. To address this, develop a team-based performance-recognition system.
Use 360 tools as a feedback mechanism. Star performers need to know they will face consequences for negative behavior. Using 360 tools is like holding up a mirror so the star performer can see the results of their actions. It is equally important to have direct feedback sessions with star performers so they know the exact consequences of not changing their behavior.
Set expectations of appropriate behavior for all employees during the selection process. Some selection processes include conducting assessments to determine if the candidate is a team player, how he or she reacts to recognition, as well as coaching ability.
Hold managers accountable for helping the star performer change his or her behavior. Most star performers are excellent at what they do. But & #8230; sometimes managers are reluctant to hold them accountable for unacceptable behavior.
Pay attention to interpersonal skills. Star performers often have come up through the ranks by producing, producing, producing and churning stuff out -- and neglecting the grooming of their interpersonal relations.
Isolate the star performer's role. Consider modifying the person's role to become more of an expert, individual contributor or one-person function.
Sometimes, talent managers need to hit 'em in the pocket book. It can be tempting for a star performer to ignore unflattering feedback when he or she is bringing in a tremendous amount of revenue. After giving direct feedback to a star performer, sometimes the manager needs to cut the bonus and, again, explain why.
Encourage a star performer to fail. Star performers literally can be trapped by their accomplishments. When people don't know something, they often are more open to learn. But when people know something quite well, they are often invested in being an expert. That can be limiting. Encourage the star performer to take risks, try new assignments, jobs and work styles. (Kushnir, 2008, pp. 38-39)
This set of suggestions is comprehensive and in some ways specific to "star performer" problem employees but it is also good advice for a business where a star performer is not the problem. Team mentalities, compensation and recognition for the contributions of all employees and positive discipline are all sage bits of advice for managers dealing with problem employees.
Whipple also offers an outstanding set of cues for the manager to look at to determine if he or she is acting as an enabler in a misconduct scenario.
Are You Enabling? You may be enabling a problem employee if:
• You are working around a "problem."
• Employees accuse you of "playing favorites."
• Employees comment that they do not understand documented policies.
• You have discussions on how to handle an out-of-control person.
• a well-known issue is denied or downplayed.
• You fear retaliation or sabotage will result if you enforce rules.
• Cliques form to protect certain individuals.
• Some individuals are victims of pranks or horseplay. (Whipple, 2010, pp. 114-115)
These cues may also be a good way to self gauge the level of response needed for an individual situation or may illuminate other problems that need to be addressed.
Employees are indeed the greatest resource an organizations has and they need to be nurtured and protected. The ignoring of misconduct by any one employee can undermine the whole trust culture of the business and leave others feeling left out on a limb. It can also do more harm than good to allow a good or even marginal employee to take advantage of the situation and act inappropriately. The harm can be to all involved business or personal, as that employee may actually be acting out to receive attention or demand a change that really needs to occur and worst case scenario the employee may simply need to move on to a place where he or she is a better fit and where he or she feels so much better about what they are doing, is more invested in the goals and environment and adds instead f subtracting from the culture, or somewhere that they do not engage in poor behaviors for any number of reasons. Legitimately there are simply some people who should not be working with others and will always be problem employees, wherever they go but they are few and far between. Most people are good people, that may simply need more guidance to address issues that are troubling to others and to a large degree it is the role of a manger to help individuals do this.
DelPo, a. Guerin, L. (2010) Dealing With Problem Employees: A Legal Guide 5th Edition. Berkeley, CA: NOLO Press.
Gudgin, S. (2010). Be smart to avoid a legal scrum. Caterer & Hotelkeeper, 200(4642), 33. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
Ingham, D. (2010). Clued up. Works Management, 63(8), 12. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
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