Managing Difficult Employees © Martyn Carruthers
If you are a manager, much of your work includes getting things done through employees. Most employee problems that you must solve will involve their attitude or performance. But behind most employee problems are the families and their other relationships – other employees, management, customers, suppliers, families and the surrounding human culture.
Systemic Coaching for Employee Problems
Consider using our online training and coaching to help solve some of your problems.
It is difficult if not impossible for people to leave their families at home when they go to work! We coach managers to change their own emotional, partnership and family conflicts as well as employee difficulties. We find that many CEO’s and senior managers re-create their own family structure in their workgroups. It is not obvious unless seen from the outside … is it possible that you have done this?
Perceiving the problem can help you find appropriate, lasting solutions.
Is the workplace uncomfortable or difficult?
Do employees consider the workplace to be unsafe?
If past performance was acceptable – what has changed?
Are this person’s skills more appropriate for a different task?
Do employees believe that high performance is not achievable?
What limiting beliefs cause insecurity or undermine performance?
Do the employee’s values match those of the work team?
Are employee’s cultural values appropriate for the organization?
Are employees emotionally immature and act responsibly?
Do employees have difficulty controlling emotional reactions?
Can employees adjust to a workplace or corporate culture?
Does an employee’s faith or religion restrict certain actions?
Resolving performance problems is a key responsibility of managers and human resources staff. We help managers and HR staff diagnose, understand, evaluate and solve employee problems. It wouldn’t hurt that the HR managers have studied MBA programs to increase their knowledge of handling employees.
Most organizations have some difficult employees – and some difficult managers. A good manager can help problem employees develop adequate skills, transfer, find professional help, or get appropriate coaching. Difficult or inexperienced managers may require mentorship, relocation or replacement.
Employee Mental Health
Many employees bring their disappointments and unfulfilled relationships to the workplace, and may try to use their managers and co-workers to act out family issues. The higher the employee’s position – the more likely that an employee’s emotional or relationship issues can disrupt an organization.
Since your coaching, we have three requirements when we hire staff; they must like people, they must often smile and they must be generally happy. You helped us set up good interview strategies and you helped some of them clean up their resistance to happiness … THAT ALONE was well worth any effort. London
Some mental health guidelines:
- If employees claim mental health disabilities, get professional advice
- Many mental health problems, if treated, cause only temporary disruption
- Create a policy for employees who claim or show mental health problems
- Managers who can recognize mental health problems can help employees get needed care – and help protect a company from legal difficulties.
Aggressive & Violent Employees
If employees become aggressive or violent, there are heavy consequences for those employees, their colleagues and their managers.
A common cause of aggression is victim identification. Aggressive employee may identify with perceived victims, either at home or at work, and express anger FOR those victims. Following a lay-off, for example, some employees may express deep anger FOR employees they perceive as victims. See Downsizing with Integrity.
Most people suffering from victim identification are suspicious and seem to enjoy annoying, tormenting or attacking anybody whom they label as victimizers, including managers and Human Resources.
Few victim identified people can stop their simmering anger and suspicion. Systemic leadership and our online systemic coaching can provide resolution for employees who want to change.
Prevent Employee Problems
Few employees want to be perceived as difficult by their colleagues, human resources or managers. We coach managers to prevent and deal with employee problems. Specific points often include:
- Provide orientation to new employees
- Evaluate relationship habits in the hiring process
- Describe appropriate conduct and unacceptable behavior
- Clarify expectations with job descriptions and an employee handbook
Diagnose Employee Problems
While simple discussions may sometimes change simple problems; chronic behavioral or performance problems require more attention. Common questions to help evaluate employee problems include:
- Poor performance
Does the employee lack essential skills? What standards or goals are used
to assess employee performance? What additional training is needed?
- Work incompatibility
Are the employee’s skills and preferences compatible with their assigned tasks
or regular duties? Is additional training or reassignment appropriate?
Absences – late arrivals, long lunches and early departures …
Is an employee occasionally late? Is punctuality important?
- Disruptive or difficult employees
What is the real problem? Has the employee “space” to express feelings and concerns?
Evaluate Employee Problems
Evaluate the seriousness of offenses and appropriate responses:
- Do the rules specify expected employee conduct?
- Did any investigation include the employee’s history?
- Was the employee informed of the rules and the penalties?
- Did an investigation show that the employee acted improperly?
- Did an investigation determine whether the employee violated the rules?
Solving Employee Problems
Although most employees want to co-operate with their managers, supervisors and co-workers, uncooperative employees can disrupt a workplace or an organization. We suggest four basic solutions for problem employees: ignore – coach – mentor – discipline.
- Ignore minor first-time infractions, especially if the employee is aware that his or her manager knows of the offense. Most employees will avoid becoming frequent offenders.
- Coach the manager to work one-on-one with problem employees. A good manager can provide an employee with useful feedback and solutions for improving performance.
- Mentor senior or professional staff. As well as providing feedback on specific managerial competencies, upper management can establish an appropriate organizational culture.
- Discipline may include written warnings, reassignment and dismissal.