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How to Deal with Problem Employees

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  1. How to Deal with Problem Employees

  2. CHAPTER OVERVIEW • The chapter identifies common types of problem behavior among employees. • Those most likely to be encountered by supervisors are • absenteeism and tardiness, • insubordination and uncooperativeness,

  3. Methods • There are two general methods discussed to help supervisors improve employee performance: • counseling and • the discipline process. • In addition; the State has an employee assistance program (EAP) to assist troubled employees.

  4. Counseling • Counseling helps employees solve their problems, which enables them to perform better at work. • Supervisors should counsel employees when they need help in determining how to resolve a problem that is affecting their work. • When employees have problems that supervisors are unqualified to help with, they should refer employees to a professional or HR.

  5. Counseling • Counseling may involve • directive counseling, in which the supervisor suggests solutions, or • nondirective counseling, with the supervisor primarily listening and encouraging the employee to look for the source of the problem and identify possible solutions.

  6. Discipline • In administering discipline, the supervisor explains the significance and consequences of the employee’s behavior, then, if necessary, lets the employee experience those consequences. • A typical process of discipline occurs in stages, with the supervisor • first administering a Verbal warning, • Then a Written warning • then a suspension*, and • finally dismissal*. *Requires TAG Letter

  7. Discipline • The supervisor should administer discipline promptly, privately, impartially, and unemotionally. • All disciplinary actions should be documented and forwarded to HR to be placed in the employee’s file.

  8. Discipline • Positive discipline focuses on preventing problem behavior from ever beginning. • It can include • making sure employees know and understand rules, • creating conditions under which employees are least likely to cause problems, • using decision-making leaves when problems occur, and • rewarding desirable behavior.

  9. Discipline • The goal of positive discipline is self-discipline among employees or employees who voluntarily follow the rules and meet performance standards. • Supervisors who expect self-discipline from their employees must practice it themselves.

  10. Personal Problems • Discipline problems may be the result of personal problems. • These employees are defined as troubled employees.

  11. Personal Problems • When the supervisor suspects that an employee is troubled, the supervisor should • document the problem, • Contact HR to assist with next step • then meet with the employee and describe the evidence of a problem, • focusing on the employee’s performance at work.

  12. EAP • The employee should then be referred to a professional (EAP) for help and informed of the consequences of not getting help. • Employees should be made aware that their job performance must improve. • Follow up from the supervisor will be in terms of improved job performance.

  13. EAP • To best help their employees, supervisors should learn about their organization’s procedures and resources for assisting employees. • This may involve referring employees to the organization’s employee assistance program.

  14. Human Resources • The supervisor may also seek the help of others in the organization. • The supervisor’s human resources department can help the supervisor handle problem employees in ways that follow • organization guidelines, • legal requirements, and • the union contract (if any).

  15. Human Resources • A supervisor should discuss a problem employee with Human Resources, so that the they can offer advice and provide necessary authorization for such steps as suspension or dismissal.

  16. Common Types of Problem Behavior • In general, problem employees fall into two categories: • (1) employees causing problems, • for example by starting fights or leaving early, and • (2) employees with problems, • such as an employee whose money worries are a distraction from work.

  17. Uncover Sources • To uncover the true source of a performance problem, the supervisor might consider the following issues • Whether the employee has performed better in the past • Whether the employee has received proper training • Whether the employee knows and understands the objectives he or she is to accomplish • Whether the supervisor is providing enough feedback and support • Whether the supervisor has encouraged and rewarded high performance • Whether other employees with similar abilities are performing well or experiencing similar difficulties.

  18. Most Common • The problems that supervisors most commonly encounter are • absenteeism and tardiness, • insubordination and uncooperativeness,

  19. Absenteeism and tardiness • This is an expensive problem. • An absent employee may be paid for the time off, or • replaced with a less productive person.

  20. Absenteeism and tardiness • Also, missing work is often a sign of a deeper problem. such as • a family crisis, • anger about something at work, or • plans to leave the organization.

  21. Insubordination and uncooperativeness • Insubordination: Deliberate refusal to do what the supervisor or other superior asks. • Poor performance may result from not understanding how to do something. • This is corrected by training. • Sometimes an employee performs poorly or breaks rules because he or she chooses to do so. • This may be uncooperative behavior or deliberate refusal to do what he or she is told

  22. Insubordination and uncooperativeness • Many kinds of negative behavior fall into the following categories: • General poor attitude • criticizng, • complaining, and • showing dislike for the supervisor and organization • Making an art out of doing as little as possible • Spending most of the day • socializing, • joking around, or • moving as slowly as possible

  23. Insubordination and uncooperativeness • Regularly failing to follow rules • forgetting to wear safety equipment or • sign out at lunchtime • Disregard for supervisor’s instruction to do something, • saying it will be done later • Sarcastic, hostile, or passive behavior which may be a symptom of an underlying problem

  24. Substance Abuse • Some poor performance such as unsafe practices, sloppy work, or frequent absences may be a symptom of personal problems off the job or possible substance abuse. • These employees are expensive to the organization.

  25. Substance Abuse • They can hurt the organization by lower productivity. • They are more likely • to quit, • to cause accidents, • to have a higher use of disability and sick benefits, and • to increase insurance costs.

  26. Substance Abuse • The supervisor should note that the federal antidiscrimination law treats substance abuse as a disability, and companies should encourage the employee to get help. • Any actions taken with regard to the employee should focus on work performance, not on the substance abuse itself.

  27. Substance Abuse • Since the supervisor is responsible for ensuring a safe workplace for employees and others, it means that if an employee’s suspected substance abuse is creating a hazard, the supervisor must act.

  28. Counseling Employees • If the supervisor responds to problem behavior immediately, he or she will sometimes be able to bring the problem to a quick end without complex proceedings.

  29. Counseling Employees • Often the most constructive way a supervisor can address problem behavior is through • counseling, or • learning about an individual’s personal problem and helping him or her resolve it.

  30. Counseling Employees • For simple problems, such as tardiness resulting from keeping late-night hours, calling the problem to the employee’s attention may lead to a solution without the supervisors help. • For more complex problems, such as financial or substance abuse, the solution will be for the employee to get expert help. • In either case, counseling is a cooperative process, with supervisor and employee working together.

  31. Counseling Employees • Counseling involves one or more discussions between the supervisor and the employee. • These discussions are by nature a personal matter as well as a discussion of performance. • These sessions should take place where privacy is assured and will be free from interruptions. • Methods of approaching the session include directive or nondirective counseling

  32. Types of Counseling • Directive Counseling: An approach to counseling in which the supervisor asks the employee questions about the specific problem; • when the supervisor understands the problem, he or she suggests ways to handle it. • Nondirective Counseling: An approach to counseling in which the supervisor primarily listens, • encouraging the employee to look for the source of the problem and to propose possible solutions.

  33. Directive Counseling • The most focused approach to counseling is directive counseling. Steps include • asking the employee questions about the specific problem, • questioning and listening until he or she understands the source of the problem, and • suggesting ways to handle the problem.

  34. Nondirective Counseling • The supervisor and employee will often find it most beneficial to help the employee develop and change, rather than to look only for solutions to a specific problem. • In this approach, the supervisor primarily listens, encouraging the employee to look for sources of the problem and to propose possible solutions. • Ideally, by working out their own solution, employees will find they have the ability to resolve their problem.

  35. The Counseling Interview • The counseling interview begins with a discussion of what the problem is. • Because the counseling often takes place as a result of personal problems the employee is having, he or she may be emotional during counseling sessions. • The supervisor should be prepared for emotional or angry outbursts by the employee. • He or she should be calm and reassure the employee that emotions aren’t innately good or bad.

  36. The Counseling Interview • The next step is consideration of possible solutions and the selection of one to try. • Rather than simply prescribing a solution, the supervisor can usually be more helpful by asking the employee questions that will help the employee come up with ideas of his or her own. • When the supervisor and employee agree on a solution to be used, the supervisor should restate it to make sure the employee understands.

  37. The Counseling Interview • The interview ends with the supervisor scheduling a follow-up meeting. • This should take place after just enough time for the employee to begin seeing some results. • At this meeting, the supervisor will review their plans and discuss whether the problem has been or is being resolved.

  38. Administering Discipline • There is a distinction between discipline and punishment. • Punishment is an unpleasant consequence given in response to undesirable behavior. • Discipline is broader; it is a teaching process.

  39. Discipline Process • Before taking any action, the supervisor needs to have a clear picture of the problems. • He or she should collect the facts before proceeding. • Then the supervisor should meet with the employee and ask for his or her version of what happened. • When the supervisor observes and understands the facts behind problem behavior, disciplining the employee takes place in four steps.

  40. Warning • (1) Awarning may be written or oral. • The Adjutant General’s Department has a policy that calls for an oral warning, to be followed by a written warning if performance does not improve. • The warning should contain what the problem behavior is, • how the behavior affects the organization, • how and by when the behavior is expected to change, and • what actions will be taken if the employee’s behavior does not change .

  41. Warning • The usual practice is to have the employee sign the warning as an indication that the situation has been discussed with him or her. • If the employee refuses to sign, the supervisor should make a note of the refusal.

  42. Suspension • (2) A suspension involves requiring that the employee not come to work for a set period of time. • The employee is not paid for this time off. • The time period can be from one day to a month, depending on the seriousness of the problem.

  43. Demotion • (3) Ademotion is transferring an employee to a job involving less responsibility and, usually, lower pay. • Some employees find a demotion a relief if they performed poorly because the job was more than he or she could handle. • More often it leads to negative feelings.

  44. Dismissal • (3)This is also called termination, or discharge. • This will cost the organization in that it requires the organization to recruit, hire, and train a new employee. • However, it may be necessary if an employee’s offense is serious or if he or she will not respond to other forms of discipline.

  45. Documentation of Disciplinary Action • Employees who receive discipline sometimes respond by filing a grievance or suing the employer. • To be able to justify his or her actions, the supervisor must have a record of the disciplinary actions taken and the basis for the discipline.

  46. Documentation of Disciplinary Action • Remember that performance appraisal records are available on the employee. • These records may show that the employee’s performance is adequate for the same problem for which the supervisor is administering discipline. • This is a good reason to make sure that the performance appraisal is fair and a true reflection of the employee’s performance.

  47. Documentation of Disciplinary Action • Documentation is especially important when the supervisor must terminate an employee. • The employee’s file should show the steps the supervisor took leading up to termination, and should include specific behaviors that led him or her to dismiss the employee.