Get access to the exclusive HR Resources you need to succeed in 2018.
Sign up for free email newsletters and get more SHRM content delivered to your inbox.
Is your employee handbook keeping up with the changing world of work? With SHRM's Employee Handbook Builder get peace of mind that your handbook is up-to-date.
Build competencies, establish credibility and advance your career—while earning PDCs—at SHRM Seminars in 14 cities across the U.S. this fall.
Gain the skills you need to rise to the next level in your career. Jon us at SHRM's Leadership Development Forum, October 2-3 in Boston.
Members may download one copy of our sample forms and templates for your personal use within your organization. Please note that all such forms and policies should be reviewed by your legal counsel for compliance with applicable law, and should be modified to suit your organization’s culture, industry, and practices. Neither members nor non-members may reproduce such samples in any other way (e.g., to republish in a book or use for a commercial purpose) without SHRM’s permission. To request permission for specific items, click on the “reuse permissions” button on the page where you find the item.
Confrontation is part of being a manager. However, too often a manager’s aversion to confronting a problem employee results in accommodation of bad behavior. In a typical scenario, the problem festers for months, even years, until escalation of the issue reaches a tipping point. By this time, the problem is horrendous and more difficult to tackle.
Behaviors such as tardiness, taking excessive smoke breaks or bullying are destructive.
A common example: Workers stretch break times from the standard 20 minutes to more than 30 minutes actually sitting in the break room. The total duration is more like 45 minutes from the time work stops until it resumes. The supervisor does not want to appear to be a “by the book” manager, so he ignores the problem every day. When the situation gets too far out of control, the supervisor is forced to play the bad guy, and everyone suffers a loss in morale.
Taking action requires courage that many leaders do not have. They rationalize their inaction with logic like:
Once you let an employee get away with bad behavior, it becomes harder to address the next time. For that reason, intervene when the issue first arises. As a supervisor, you need to make the rules known and follow them yourself with few and well-justified exceptions. It is not possible to treat everyone the same at all times, but you must enforce the rules consistently in a way that people recognize as appropriate and disciplined.
Are You Enabling?
You may be enabling a problem employee if:
If you recognize one or more of the above situations happening in your department, you can get back on track. In addition to dealing with the problem employee one-on-one, address all employees in a meeting to signal that the enabling will stop. In this meeting, review policies, ascertain understanding and solicit questions for clarification of the rules.
Ask the group how policies could be misunderstood or abused and for suggestions to close those loopholes for consistency. When people have a hand in creating the rules, they tend to remember and follow them better.
As a leader, taking responsible action can help you regain control, credibility and respect.
Handle problems early when they are easier to correct, and employees will no longer constantly push the boundaries of acceptable business behavior.
The author is chief executive officer of Leadergrow Inc., a Rochester, N.Y.-based leadership consultancy. He is author of The TRUST Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals (Productivity Publications, 2003) and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You have successfully saved this page as a bookmark.
Please confirm that you want to proceed with deleting bookmark.
You have successfully removed bookmark.
Please log in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Please sign in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Please purchase a SHRM membership before saving bookmarks.
An error has occurred
Recommended for you
Choose from dozens of free webcasts on the most timely HR topics.
SHRM’s HR Vendor Directory contains over 10,000 companies