Dealing with Difficult Employees

In an ideal world, every employee would come to work regularly and on time, be a helpful team player and carryout their duties competently and with integrity. In return, the employer pays each employee an agreed or stipulated amount of remuneration, provides a safe and secure work environment, and treats each employee with fairness and respect. However, this world is far from ideal. Every employer will ultimately have to deal with employee misconduct and discipline. If you are an employer of labor, it is important that you handle problem employee issues properly, in order to avoid legal and financial consequences such as wrongful termination or discrimination suits and unemployment claims. Keeping contemporaneous notes can help you manage employee misconduct effectively.

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Measures to take to prevent or minimize employee misconduct

Ensure that your employees understand what you expect from them. You should have a clear policy which outlines rational performance expectations and rules of conduct. It is extremely important that your employees are aware of these rules. When you hire a new employee, have him or her read as well as sign the conduct rules and policies. To ensure compliance, make sure that the conduct polices are consistently applied and enforced.

Keep a File for each Employee

Whether you are a small business owner or you work as a supervisor in a large firm, it is important that you keep a file for every employee that reports to you. Keep this file within a locked cabinet and ensure that no one else can access it. These employee records are unofficial and are highly beneficial for relationship building and for keeping details chronologically current. When there is need for performance reviews and counseling, you can easily obtain the information you need and not depend on what you can recollect. It is not easy to remember events that occurred several months ago, and that can reduce your capability to give accurate and fair reviews.

The files you keep should contain the following details:

  • The name of the employee
  • The employee’s date of birth: It is good practice to recognize employees on their birthdays
  • The date the employee was hired. Keeping this record is especially important, as it will help you acknowledge your employees during anniversary dates
  • Basic household structure. This should include the name of employee’s spouse, number of children and their ages, and status of elderly parents. Use this information for relationship building only.
  • State what you believe are the employee’s weaknesses and strengths and update this information on a regular basis.

The Importance of Taking Contemporaneous Notes

Taking contemporaneous notes can:

  • reiterate your position whenever the facts are disputed
  • show concerned parties that the firm acted correctly and within the rules of the company’s fair policies
  • Provide an accurate record of happenings, even when the concerned parties might have left the company

Presented below are some of the things you should include in your contemporaneous notes:

  • The full name of the employee
  • Date and time that the event happened.
  • Place where the event happened. Was it within your office premises or somewhere else?
  • Names of individuals who witnessed the incident (including individuals who came to complain about the incident. Even if you did not witness the event, you should still record it, particularly when many of your employees are reporting about it
  • Date, time as well as place where you’re taking the notes in case you need to give an account of your whereabouts.
  • The action you took at the time. If you said anything to the individual in question, write down what you said. Make sure you provide specific details and record factual information.
  • The reaction of the employee. How did the employee react after you spoke to him or her? Once again, ensure you provide specific details and do not deviate from the facts.
  • Include your signature after taking the notes

Remember that the contemporaneous notes you keep are meant for your observation documentation, and should not be read by your employees. Keep these records within a locked file and use them in a way that is consistent with your company’s policy. No two organizations are the same. When taking contemporaneous notes, record only factual information. It is important that you are not biased. Thus, you should also keep records of great jobs done by the employee. Furthermore, there is likelihood that the notes you take, be it at the workplace or in your home, can be utilized as evidence in a law court.

Top Tips for Dealing with Difficult People

As a business owner or manager, it is very important that you know how to manage difficult employees. These individuals can upset team unity, and that can have a negative effect on the morale of other workers. Here are a few tips for handling difficult employees in your organization.

Do Not Disregard Problem Employee Issues

If you have problem employees in your organization, you cannot afford to ignore their activities. You should take steps to deal with the problem once you notice it. The problem will only deteriorate if you delay in taking. Tolerating the activities of difficult employees could cause your other workers to lose their morale.

Bear in mind that your employees are monitoring your actions and inactions. If a particular employee is causing problems in the organization, other employees will want to know how you deal with the individual. They will judge your capability as a leader based upon how you handle the problem. A good employee performance management system will deal with problem employee issues swiftly.

Do your own Investigation

When dealing with difficult people, do not merely accept the report of other people involved without carrying out your own investigation. You can investigate by carrying out discreet interviews with other individuals connected to the case or through observation. Before you accept any evidence, make sure that it can be substantiated.

Take contemporaneous notes

It is a good idea to take contemporaneous notes when working with difficult people. Whenever you take corrective actions against an employee, make sure that everything is documented. If ultimately you have to sack the employee, then your notes will serve as a protection against any lawsuit that might follow.

You should still keep a record of the event, even if things end on a positive note. This is because you might need the notes in case the problem resurfaces in the future. If the employer is transferred to another department, the next individual who will be dealing with the difficult employee will be pleased to have your notes.

Take Action Fast

Once you notice any problem, you should take steps to resolve it without delay. However, make sure you have a good plan of action. As you take steps to tackle the problem, you should gather as much information as possible and use such info appropriately. Problems should be quickly addressed before they cause serious damage in your organization.

Have a Corrective Action Plan

When dealing with a difficult employee, your goal should always be to reform and help him or her return as productive member of your workforce. The employee might be difficult due to several reasons. Also, the employee may not be aware that his actions is causing problems in the organization. At times, the employee can be reformed completely merely by discussing the situation with him or her.

While it is not easy to deal with problem employees, it is an extremely important skill that you’ll need throughout your working life. Knowing how to perform this task efficiently will help you manage your workforce effectively.




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