You know that you ought to address various issues with a badly behaved or poorly performing employee, but you haven’t. Because he is still around, you know customers aren’t getting served the way you expect, and you get complaints from other employees about this co-worker frequently. You’re embarrassed and frustrated because you feel uncertain how to approach the situation, and you secretly wish this employee would just leave. It would make things so much easier.
If he were gone, a weight would be lifted from your shoulders. The other employees would be able to work so much more effectively together and would probably be in a better mood. And of course, customers would be better served and more likely to buy from you more often. What has to happen for you to address this bad employee and stop walking on eggshells around him.
How did you get to where you are now? Many things could have happened. You could have made a bad decision when you hired him then didn’t let him go early on because you’re too nice or don’t know how many chances are reasonable. Maybe you’re afraid of this employee because you don’t know the right words to say to him and believe he’ll get angry if you try to address things with him, or you believe he will sue you for discrimination. Maybe he’s a personal friend or family member. Or you might just be conflict avoidant.
No matter how you ended up walking on eggshells around this employee, here’s how to rectify the situation:
- Avoid hiring poor employees in the first place. Maybe he wasn’t a keeper from the get-go. Learn how to hire better.
- Train your front line supervisors and other management staff on topics that make them better people supervisors, so they have the skills to set expectations, communicate effectively, and follow up when an employee isn’t meeting expectations.
- Make it part of your supervisors’ performance reviews to appreciate, reward, and recognize employees, as well as looking at whether they address poor employee behavior and performance timely and effectively.
- Walk the talk of your company values. All employees are watching you and learning about the way you and your management team address those who are routinely out of line or not producing to expectations.
- Stay the course and keep an even keel with tough employee situations. You might have to start from square one, even if the situation has been going on a long time, but you must address it.
- Get advice from an expert, whether that’s your HR person or your company’s attorney.
It’s disheartening when an employee isn’t doing what’s expected, but walking around on eggshells isn’t going to solve the problem. Get the support you need to address it, then see it through. Who knows? Maybe the employee will improve! Everyone else knows what’s going on. Allowing a “bad” employee to remain without improving is degrading your company’s credibility and thereby degrading other employees’ faith and trust in you and your company.