How to Manage the Challenging Employee

You have an employee who is not performing up to par or who is otherwise creating difficulties. He or she is not working well with other people, for example. How do you deal with such a person?

Giving Feedback

Before resorting to some kind of punitive action, you need to try and work with the person to help them address the problem. The idea here is to get the employee to think about his or her behavior and how it is affecting others, to see the consequences of the behavior. The employee ideally should then have questions about their behavior and its consequences. The job of the supervisor is to give the employee feedback to his questions. The purpose is to get buy-in from the worker so that he or she feels empowered and engaged.

Meeting with the Employee

When talking with the employee, the first thing you want to do is set a positive tone by praising him for the good things he is doing. Then you tell him why you are meeting with him and talk about the behavior that is causing the problem and its consequences. The focus of your comments should not be on the employee himself, but only on his actions. Then the supervisor should ask the employee what he thinks about his behavior.

The supervisor should then review with the worker the duties and responsibilities of the job, as well as performance expectations so that everyone is on the same page with these things. Then the supervisor should elicit from the employee a plan of action for what he is going to do about the problem. It is important here that the employee take the lead in coming up with a solution so he has a stake in the situation so that he feels empowered.

Then, the supervisor and employee need to draw up a plan of action outlining the specific steps that will be taken, how they will be evaluated or measured, and when that will be done.

Ending Well

The supervisor should end the conversation on a positive note, letting the employee know that he is valued by the company. This will help the employee to maintain his self-confidence and desire to make a change.

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