Take Positive Steps With Problem Workers

Managing Problem Employees

What to Do?

Every manager has to deal with problem workers from time to time. Firing them can lead to other problems if you’re not careful, though, so follow this advice before a problem becomes a nightmare:

Don’t turn a blind eye to poor performance. Disciplining workers may be uncomfortable, but that doesn’t mean you can afford to ignore a performance problem. Hoping it will go away will probably make the issue worse, and it may lead to additional problems with other workers. Take a stand as soon as problems occur.

Don’t start with termination as a goal. Your objective should be “How can I coach this employee to do better?” not “How can I get rid of this person?” Strive to protect the investment you and your company have made in the employee.

Explain that actions have consequences. When approaching a problem worker, clearly outline both the problem and your expectations. Make sure the worker understands that failure to meet those expectations will have consequences. Leave no doubt that you take this situation seriously.

Keep personalities out of it. Discipline should be consistent if you want employees to listen to you. Don’t let problems slide with workers you favor while taking a hard line with those you don’t like. Setting double standards will hurt morale and undermine your authority—and could have legal repercussions.

Keep a record of each meeting. Even if you’re convinced that a single conversation has resolved the problem, you should still document the incident. If the employee doesn’t improve, you’ll want to be able to demonstrate all the steps you’ve taken to deal with the situation.

Follow your organization’s polices. If the problem persists, seek help from human resources or your manager. They may be able to guide you toward a better result. Either way, they should be in the loop.

—Adapted from the Laundry Today website