It is early July and a time when many people enjoy fresh picked Ontario strawberries. Ideally, they are picked in the morning, purchased and then eaten all in the same day in order to really benefit from the freshness of the fruit. If strawberries sit in a basket too long, there is a high probability that one berry will start to get mouldy and the result is that it will cause the others to quickly follow suit.
This example is no different then dealing with a challenging or difficult employee. When a worker is disengaged or unhappy, he may act out or influence the dynamics on a team causing productivity to be compromised. Often leaders struggle to manage a difficult employee because they are not sure what to do. Perhaps their skills are strong, but they just can't seem to get along with others. There are various ways an employee can prove challenging. If left unaddressed, the results can harm the team and, in time, the organization's culture. When there is disharmony in the workplace, it can result in higher absenteeism and illness, which can also have negative consequences on the employer's benefits plan.
Here are some tips for effectively dealing with a challenging employee:
1) Get feedback. Ensure you have a comprehensive perspective from team members and other leaders who have recently interacted with the challenging employee. When you have a more clear picture, it becomes easier to find out if feedback is consistent.
2) Meet with the employee. Don't wait and hope the problem will go away. If you do, the employee may turn out to be just like the example of the mouldy strawberry. Talk to the employee to find out what information you may be missing so that you're not making any assumptions. If you have feedback to give the employee, try to provide it within 24 hours or no later than 1 week from the incident. Giving feedback immediately is proven to be more effective and remember that the reason for providing it in the first place is to help the employee be successful.
3) Provide clarity and direction. When giving feedback, ensure the employee understands what is required of him in order to be successful. Then, check in for understanding and ask if there is anything else he needs to share on the topic. Let him know in no uncertain terms what the consequences will be if he is not able to meet the requirements you've set out for him.
4) Know when to say enough. There comes a point when you've invested so much time in one challenging employee that you've paid far less attention to the other employees who may need direction and support. Knowing when to remove the mouldy strawberry is key. When you feel that you've exhausted all viable avenues and procedures related to performance management, it is best to end the employment relationship.
Before proceeding with point 4), it is important to engage an Human Resources consultant or an external expert. Having been in business for a number of years, we have developed a vast network of trustworthy and experienced resources to support your needs. I encourage you to contact us so that we can facilitate your objective, allowing you to get back to focusing on what you do best more quickly.
Dave Dickinson, B.Comm, CFP, CLU, CHFC
Experienced Benefits Specialist ready to optimize your group benefits and pension plans.