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5 Easy Steps to Work with a Problem Employee

We have all experienced a problem employee. Someone who causes conflict, is difficult to work with or who doesn’t complete tasks in a timely manner or of high quality. The longer we let the behavior continue, the more difficult it is to manage. When you have a problem employee, deal with it immediately – don’t want for it to resolve itself or for the problem to just go away.

Here are 5 steps for working to resolve an issue with a problem employee:

  1. Meet with the employee and identify the problem behavior; provide examples and the impact the behavior is having on the team, credibility of the employee, projects, etc.
  2. Ask the employee to help you to understand what is going on and why (why is this behavior occurring, what is the reason for this behavior).
  3. State your expectations for the employee and get agreement from the employee that this behavior is unacceptable and must be corrected. Explain what will happen if the behavior does not stop (written notice, loss of employment, transfer, etc – whatever is appropriate within your organization).
  4. Develop an action plan for how the employee will correct this behavior: what specifically will he/she do, what expectations you have for correcting the behavior, how will it be known that the behavior is no longer occurring and what will be done to ensure the behavior does not re-occur in the future.
  5. Follow up with the employee on a weekly or bi-weekly basis (depending on the situation) to confirm that progress is being made toward changing the behavior. Check in with co-workers and others with whom the employee interacts regularly to ensure they see a change in behavior.

If the behavior does not change, move on to the next step (written notice, 60 day warning, whatever your human resource policies state needs to be happen when an employee is not performing.)

Document your meetings and conversations with the employee, you will need it if the behavior does not change and it is beneficial to have it in the employee file even if the behavior does change in case it re-occurs.