They’re not talked of often; yet, a number of store owners deal with them. Problem employees create anxieties and negative issues for owners, whether it’s related to coworkers, customer service, calling out of work, or all of the above. How does one deal with problem employees, maintaining the integrity of the brand and harmony throughout the store?
You must confront the issue before the “bad apple spoils a bunch” maxim takes fruition. Whether it’s addressing isolated events, or reminding problem employees about their initial agreement to adhere to guidelines, a conversation must take place. In some cases, the biggest problem could be miscommunication or zero communication. Immediately addressing the situation enables an owner to maintain control and complete awareness.
Help Them Find a Solution
Employer/employee relations are give and take, like other relations. For instance, the problem may be lateness. Without confrontation, the repeated offense may appear to be negligence or disrespect of their position of employment. With intervention, an owner may find the need to drop a child at daycare is the root of the lateness. Perhaps the owner could place the employee on a different shift; or, accept their lateness in exchange for an added half or full hour at the end of the shift.
Two Sides to a Story
Let your problem employee be heard. It’s easy to see someone as a problem, immediately alienating ourselves from their point of view. Every story and predicament has (at least) two sides. Ensure assumptions are not brought into play. Allow employees to state their case while working with them toward a resolution to a given issue.
All offenses should be documented regarding employees. This ensures nothing is speculative but documented fact. Furthermore, once a problem is discussed, document an improvement or changes initiated by the employee. This ensures a clear logic for dismissal, demotion, or atonement to be addressed at a later time. Don’t assume problems go away, even when behavior is modified. Ensure the observation of change is conveyed to the respective employee.
Not all solutions need be long term. Sometimes, short-term solutions make more sense when looking at the bigger picture. For instance, an employee in college may work in an inferior manner days they have class before getting to work, otherwise being a star employee. This can be addressed by modifying the worker’s schedule for the semester. The smaller picture shows an inconsistent employee. The larger picture shows a dedicated person trying to go to school and work at the same time. A black-and-white manager may terminate an otherwise good employee, who could use a short-term solution.
Focus on the Problem, Not the Employee
“You are…” Fill in the blank. A person can take great offense depending on how that line ends. It’s because of the “you.” Separate the person from the problem. Discuss the problem in terms of the problem and not the problem as a creation of the person. We make greater strides (especially when speaking about negative issues) when we detach people from undesired actions. Ensure the employee understands your dissatisfaction relates to expectations and actions and does not speak upon the totality of the person.
Sometimes Termination is the Answer
Life is not filled with the happiest of chapters all the time. Sometimes, things don’t work as expected; and, it’s best to cut ties before problems get worse. If a problem is identified, brought to an employee’s attention, time and direction was afforded toward a solution, but the employee does not respond positively in modifying the problem, it is time for a change. If expectations always came to fruition, there would be no divorces, wars, or terminations. We live in a practical world; sometimes termination is the most practical solution.
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