Kirby of Concord Advises on How To Handle Difficult Employees

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A small business owner faces many situations daily. Customers, deliveries, legal issues, and cash flow needs can all be significant sources of small business stress. However, dealing with a difficult employee can be one of the most challenging and taxing tasks an owner or manager must deal with.

A difficult employee may be continually late. They may act belligerently toward management or be unfriendly to customers. This type of worker may be unproductive. They may violate a dress code. They can also become a detrimental influence in relation to other employees. In the worst cases a difficult employee may steal from the business or even from customers.

How should this kind of bad behavior be best dealt with?

  1. Document all instances of sub-standard behavior. List all instances of rule breaking. This should include days, dates and times.
  2. Summon the employee to a meeting. Make sure another trusted management employee attends the meeting also so that there is a credible witness concerning everything that will be said.
  3. Confront the employee with the facts. Give the worker time to respond and/or disagree with the documentation.
  4. After facts have been agreed upon, list remedies to each individual instance or case of bad conduct. 
  5. Then list the order in which disciplinary actions will be applied.
  6. State the consequences that will occur if the employee misbehaves again.
  7. Document everything and have the employee sign the documentation.
  8. If the employee continues to behave adversely, then termination may be required.

It is very important to record and document in writing each contact that management has with the troubled employee in order to minimize the possibility of legal action later. Also, if the employee makes a claim for unemployment compensation, this documentation can be very helpful if such an unemployment hearing is necessary.

It is never pleasant to deal with an under performing or difficult employee, but with proper procedures and documentation, further problems in the future can be minimized or avoided altogether. One would also expect that the selection process is important too and should not be left out of the so called mix of management and leadership.

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Kirby of Concord Advises on How To Handle Difficult Employees

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This article was published on 2011/06/27