Most of us who have managed people have had the unpleasant experience of dealing with negative employee behaviors.
It’s one of those things that just drains the energy out of you and makes being a manager an unpopular job.
While confronting employees is never fun, it can be done with diplomacy and result in changed behaviors.
Whether the employee is being insubordinate or displaying negativity toward another employee, the sooner the employee is confronted the more likely it will be that you’ll be able to turn the behavior around.
5 Steps to Dealing with Negative Employee Behaviors
1. Confront the Issue
The employee needs to understand that the behavior they are demonstrating is not appropriate.
This is done by having a formal conversation with the employee.
This should be a face-to-face meeting, in a private location – like the manager’s office.
When meeting with the employee, explain why you are meeting with him/her.
For example, “Sue we are meeting today to discuss the fact that you did not communicate to me that you would be taking this week off of work”.
2. Explain Your Understanding
Explain your understanding of the incident. It is always a good leadership practice to give the employee the opportunity to give their account of the incident.
Sometimes there are legitimate reasons for things that happen, so giving the employee the benefit-of-the-doubt shows that you are willing to hear their perspective.
This also helps to ensure there was no misunderstanding of the incident. It is never good to address an issue without the benefit of understanding all of the facts.
3. Policy Reminder
Remind the employee when the behavior expectation was communicated to them.
In this situation, show the employee the attendance policy as written in the employee manual (another reason to have employees sign that they have read and understand the employee manual).
This is merely a reminder of company policy and expectations for adhering to the policy.
For example, “Sue when we went over the attendance policy in new employee orientation, it was explained that we require three weeks’ notice for vacation approval”.
4. Explain The Why
Explain why the policy is important and why the policy is in place.
Try to help the employee understand the ramification of their behaviors and how his/her decision affects other people.
For example, “Sue, when I don’t know you won’t be here, I am not able to arrange for someone to cover your responsibilities in your absence.
This could result in a negative experience for our customers.”
5. Articulate the Consequences
Explain what your expectations are and what the consequences will be if expectations are not met in the future.
For example, “Sue this is the second time this has happened and if this happens a third time we will begin a formal disciplinary process”.
6. Document the Incident
As with all issues that deal with employee performance, document the incident, and keep your notes in the employee’s file.
Make sure you document the date, time, and all details of the incident.
It is unfortunate, but some employees need more hand-holding, coaching, and management than others. I refer to these employees as high maintenance.
While confronting employee behaviors is not a favored aspect of a manager’s job, it is an important part of managing employee performance.