Difficult Employees: Coach or Fire?

10 Jun

difficult employeeIt’s stressful for everyone when we have to deal with difficult employees on the job.  Whether they have a bad attitude, lack in experience or just don’t have the necessary skills to actually do the job…the manager must determine the best way to deal with the employee.  Often times, it will be one of two things:  either coach the individual to become a better employee, or let the employee go.

So, if you’re dealing with a difficult employee and don’t know what to do about it, then look at these steps to get an idea on how to proceed:

  1. Set Expectations with all employees when they are hired about what behaviors and actions are grounds for immediate termination.  Also, provide regular performance appraisals of the work being done (or not done).  This provides the employee an opportunity to correct any deficiencies in his or her performance.
  2. Act Immediately when you notice any performance issues that are substandard.  Don’t wait for the next appraisal review.  Inquire with the employee about what is causing the poor performance and then offer suggestions on how to improve.  Be sure to keep written records of these conversations.
  3. Focus on the problem or issue that’s causing the employee’s performance to falter.  Discuss the facts only without commenting about the person.  Then coach the employee on specific action steps needed to correct the issue.  Sometimes, this may require transferring the employee to another department or assigning different responsibilities that will better match his or her skills.
  4. Document all conversations, appraisals, courses of action, etc.  It is vital that you have an adequate paper-trail to show evidence of the steps taken to make the employee aware of the issue and how an adequate amount of time was given for corrective action.
  5. Give Warning to the employee when the next step will be termination if they continue to underperform and not meet specific benchmarks for performance improvement.  This way, the employee will not be surprised when you have to terminate his/her employment with the organization.

It’s never an easy task to terminate someone, but some individuals just don’t have the proper skill sets to match the requirements of the position.  That’s why it’s even more important to develop hiring procedures to determine and assess skill sets prior to offering a job to a prospect.  Take time this week to review how you deal with difficult employees, then try to implement some of the steps listed above to provide an opportunity for him or her to improve.

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One response to “Difficult Employees: Coach or Fire?

  1. Carlos

    June 10, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    When you stick to a routine, your staff will always know what you expect from them. And when that routine reflects company standards and values, your job as a leader becomes easy. Great write-up! Thats also why it’s not wise to make close friends with subordiante staff either. Unless they are at your level, lets say leaders in other departments, it’s not wise.


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