Every company has employees who struggle. But struggling usually means that there’s room for growth, not that you need to let them go. They might require different instruction. Maybe they zoned out during orientation and missed a key piece of information. Or maybe there was an initial misunderstanding between the employee and a supervisor. Regardless of the issue, as a manager, it’s your responsibility to try and resolve it. Here are six effective steps to handle an employee issue.
Be patient Listen and pay attention
Your instincts tell you to yell commands and issue a corrective lecture, but don’t! Before you get to that point, listen. Begin a dialogue with your employee and pay attention to figure out what’s really going on. You’re more likely to be able to correct it if you can really understand the root of the problem. Sometimes just by opening up the line of communication, the employee will feel validated, and the problem will be resolved.
Once you’ve listened attentively to diagnose the problem, it’s time to give clear feedback. Be careful to target the behavior, not the employee’s character, which can make them feel defensive. Then give them specific suggestions to improve. Be positive and keep the communication between you, the employee, and any relevant HR representatives—don’t go complaining to other employees. It’s none of their business and it can make a bad situation worse.
Document every step
If you don’t make precise records about the problematic behaviors, you won’t be able to measure any signs of improvement. Perhaps more importantly, you won’t be able to justify firing them if the time comes. Documentation is important so you can track of the employee’s history and observe progress.
Just in case things don’t improve, you need to lay out consequences for the employee. Set a deadline or a target measurement and what will happen if the goal isn’t met—they’ll be let go, they’ll lose their bonus, or they’ll be put on probation. Otherwise, there’s little incentive for the employee to change.
Follow the right protocol
Most likely, your company already has a procedure for problematic employees, so follow the script. Communicate with HR about the situation and meet all their requirements in the event of termination.
Do what you said you’ll do
You made a plan, stick to it, so you’re a consistent, credible manager whom employees can trust and respect. Firing an employee is one of the hardest tasks a manager is faced with, but sometimes it has to be done. When it does, do it right. And envision how much more productive your team will be afterwards.
For more tips on handling an employee issue and making sure you have the right people in the right roles, check out our website at https://www.chiefofstaffkc.com.
Blog written by Erin Greenhalgh