How to deal with difficult staff?

Dismissal. The easiest and quickest way to get rid of that challenging employee; but is it really the member of staff that’s the problem, or could there be more to it? If the worst came to pass, could you effectively deal with the challenge of an “unfair dismissal” case summons before an employment tribunal? Does that sound a little frightening? That’s probably because it is!!

Here are some practical, effective tips to create a harmonious work environment.

  • Ditch the “We’ll just hire someone else” mentality. The recruitment cost, the time spent in training the new member of staff, and the strain on existing staff during this period, does not make this a practical or cost effective solution.
  •  Set objective standards which all staff must follow. One of the largest providers of home emergency breakdown cover, with clients such as Barclays, RBS and Direct Line, has created and enforces a “Dignity at Work” policy. In order to single out unacceptable behaviour you must first very clearly define the standards of behaviour you expect from all staff.
  • Have an HR presence in your company. This is essential no matter how small your company is. An HR advisor will provide invaluable knowledge of employment and contract law. They can also draw up documents clearly setting standards of acceptable/unacceptable behaviour. These documents can then be signed by all staff so they can be held to account in instances of breach. It’s virtually impossible to challenge an employee’s attitude or behaviour if you haven’t set up written, clearly defined parameters to follow. This will firstly help protect you, legally, should things go wrong; work towards creating an environment of fairness, equality and transparency in your processes. If a member of staff causes an issue, make sure you follow the clearly defined HR processes and document all activity. Try to follow informal processes in the first instance to allow for open communication and dialogue before invoking formal processes. Site specific instances which have been a cause for concern and try to identify if there are any underlying causes outside of work affecting the employee. Can any reasonable adjustments (temporary or permanent), be made to their work pattern in order to better support them?
  • Think carefully about who you hire as managers. They are the either the glue that hold your teams together or end up creating a feeling of resentment amongst staff. Usually, companies hire managers on the basis of their personal achievements in previous roles, and the perceived monetary value they can add to a company. As a manager, this is not their primary role. It is now to facilitate the optimal output of their team.                                    So hire a manager who clearly demonstrates excellent interpersonal skills. Someone who knows how to talk to people, and how to make the team feel valued and appreciated; a “people person”. Make sure you also encourage your management to treat all staff with respect and courtesy. A common complaint amongst demotivated staff is that they don’t feel appreciated; “I worked so hard on that deadline and didn’t even get a thank you!”. A kind word takes moments. Another common complaint is that they are often reprimanded or criticised in front of their colleagues and peers by managers. This in itself is unacceptable behaviour and will naturally make any employee feel attacked, which in turn will only exacerbate the situation. Ensure meeting rooms are available so a manager can have a 1-1 discussion in utmost privacy. Using break or canteen areas for such discussions completely undermines the entire idea. If your organisation is very small and you cannot facilitate a meeting in private, then go offsite to a local coffee shop so you can still have the discussion face to face. Never resort to emailing. Lastly, a manager should encourage all staff to create an environment of open communication and dialogue. It should be absolutely obvious to all staff that even if they experience the slightest issue related to anything at work, they can confidently approach their manager to have an informal discussion to try and proactive deal with the matter.

The above steps will help create a robust framework to effectively manage the behaviour of your employees.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *