Sooner or later, everybody’s going to work with someone that they simply don’t get along with. This becomes even more problematic when you’re the manager or owner of a company, and it becomes your responsibility to put out any fires that get started because of this person’s behavior.
So the question is, how do you go about resolving conflicts and deal with problematic employees in your workplace in an efficient way that doesn’t make the problem even worse?
Here are some steps you should consider when dealing with problematic employees:
- Never ignore the issue. The longer you let a bad situation fester, the worse it will get. Sooner or later it will start to impact the effectiveness of your other employees and your organization as a whole. As the old saying goes, “if you aren’t part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem.”
- Get involved as soon as you hear about the issue. As soon as you become aware of a negative pattern of behavior, you need to intervene. It may be a situation where the employee has no idea that he or she is being difficult. But regardless of what the situation is, it’s on you to jump in as soon as possible.
- Conduct a personal investigation into the problem. One tactic I recommend is bringing the employee in question into your office or a conference room where you can have a private one-on-one conversation about the issue at hand. This is also where you can give the employee a chance to respond to the allegations. If he or she refuses there’s a problem despite evidence to the contrary, focus their attention on the presence of a problem and less on the blame or resolution at this point.
- Do what you can to help the employee correct his or her behavior. Hopefully after this discussion, your employee will understand that his or her behavior has caused problems. Take some time to coach the employee in appropriate behavior and give them time to adjust. Be sure to give feedback and positive reinforcement to help the adjustment process.
- If the employee cannot or will not change, it may be time for more serious action. Nobody likes to discipline or fire an employee, but it’s better to let one person go than to let a problem spread throughout a business and damage the morale of your workplace. Be sure to document all instances of bad behavior, and follow any protocol in place at your organization when taking the discipline or termination route.
Whenever possible, your goal should be to resolve conflict situations that arise and help problematic employees to correct their behavior. But sometimes, this simply isn’t possible. The key is getting involved as quickly so you can put an end to the negative behavior right away.
John J. Hall, CPA
John J. Hall, CPA, is an author, speaker and results expert who presents around the world at conventions, corporate meetings and association events.
Throughout his 35-year career as a business consultant, corporate executive and professional speaker, John has helped organizations and individuals achieve measurable results. He inspires audience members in corporations, not-for-profit organizations and professional associations to step up, take action and “do what you can.”