It’s Management's least favorite thing to be faced with - the possibility you have a difficult staff member on your team. Your staff represents your organization, and to a large degree, the leadership of the organization. His or her words and actions as an employee are no different from the results of paid advertising. Your clients and customers form opinions based on their impressions and experiences with your staff. You, therefore, have no choice but to face the realization you may have an employee who is doing more harm than good for your team.
When considering this possibility, look for two extremes of employees.
- Harmful Employees Stay Under the Radar. Leaders often think the quieter the employee, the less trouble they create. Unfortunately, the exact opposite is sometimes the case. Potentially harmful employees fail to attend regular meetings and mandatory educational sessions. They won’t reach out to learn what they’ve missed or how they can catch up. These employees are also the ones who do the minimal amount of work required while they’re on the clock. They are the team members who won’t buy in to any new initiatives, and they probably do a substantial amount of complaining to co-workers and clients or customers.
- Sometimes They Are the Most Vocal On The Team. Detrimental employees are not the enthusiastic, engaged team members that we all want. They’re sometimes the ones who point out how busy they are and how much work they’ve done. They try to project the image that they've accomplished more than the rest of the staff. They are the ones who have another job, are going to school to further their degree, or have unusually high demands from family. In short, they’re often overextended with commitments. These employees are good at fooling people. Unfortunately, doing their best while they’re on your time clock is not high on their priority list.
Zero Tolerance Policy
As difficult as it may be, it’s your job to pay attention to this problem and do something about it.
- Assess. Do you receive complaints about a particular staff member? Is there consistency to the complaints? There may be a valid reason for this.
- Investigate. Look into the complaints further and determine if you have a toxic employee. Ask questions of others with direct knowledge even if they haven't verbalized any negative behavior.
- Act. If harmful behavior is confirmed, take action quickly. Allowing the toxicity to spread throughout your team will only make things worse.
Remember, your staff is a form of advertising. Would you pay for an advertisement that implied your organization was unprofessional and unreliable? Why would you tolerate behavior from your employees that sends the same message?
For additional insight on this and similiar topics, visit the Management & Leadership section of the Staffing Plus Blog.
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