5 Ways to Handle Problem Employees

Problem employees. Every manager has or will have to deal with them. Managers need to understand that a negative employee is not just a problem between them and that employee. The air of dissent affects everyone who’s around it. Even though dealing with “problem employees” isn’t a favorite task for most managers, it’s part of the job. You will have to deal with the employee, and better sooner than later.

The unfortunate thing is, most managers get held hostage to these folks, spending a disproportionate amount of time, thought and emotional energy on them. Often hovering on the verge of letting them go for years, but never quite being able (for a variety of reasons) to pull the trigger.

Here are five tips that great managers do when confronted with a difficult employee – things that keep them from getting sucked into an endless vortex of ineffectiveness and frustration:

1. Don’t Ignore the Problem

No one enjoys confrontation, but allowing a difficult employee to wreak havoc on your workplace is bad for business. A problem employee can lower morale and productivity in your office. If they’re interacting with your clients they could even lead to loss of business. Don’t ignore the problem and let it get worse.

Are you setting your business apart?: Tips to effectively sell

2. Give Feedback

You may complain about your problem employee all the time, but do they know what they’re doing wrong or what they should do differently? It’s never fun to give critical feedback, but great managers learn how to do it well and actually follow through. Give your problem employees specific information they need to improve and let them know what an improvement would look like.

3. Be Consistent

If you say you’re not OK with a behavior, don’t sometimes be OK with it. Employees look to see what you do more than what you say. If, for instance, you tell employees that it’s critical they submit a certain report by a certain time, and then you’re sometimes upset and sometimes not upset when they don’t do it…the less-good employees generally won’t do it. Pick your shots – only set standards you’re actually willing to hold to – and then hold to them.

4. Set Consequences…And Stick to Them

If you’ve let your employee know what they need to do, but you’re still seeing no improvement, it’s time to get very specific. Lay out your expectations on a timeline and set the consequences for not following through. For example, you could say, “I still believe you can turn this around. Here’s what turning it around would look like. If I don’t see an improvement by this date then here’s what will happen (i.e. you’ll be fired or you’ll be put on probation, etc.).

5. Document Everything

Many managers have a difficult time letting problem employees go because they have no record of his or her bad behavior. Whenever you’re having significant problems with an employee, DOCUMENT EVERYTHING. Write down the key points or put it through the proper channels in your organization. All too often a lack of documentation arises out of misplaced hopefulness; managers don’t want to be ‘too negative’ about the employee, as if it would all magically go away if they didn’t write it down. But good managers know that documentation isn’t negative – it’s prudent. Remember, if you’re able to solve the problem, you can just breathe a sigh of relief and put your documentation in the back of the drawer.

Don’t allow problem employees to disrupt your business. Problem employees don’t just affect their managers, they affect the morale in the office, the productivity of their peers, and ultimately, your business’s bottom line.

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Are You Setting Your Practice Up for Failure?

The success or failure of a business is dependent on a variety of factors.  By monitoring several key components of your practice, you can gauge the overall health of your practice on a weekly and a monthly basis.

Often times, practices do not reach their full potential for reasons the practice owner cannot clearly explain.  The problem with this scenario is that when the practice suffers a downturn, not only does the owner not see the downturn coming, but they’re also unsure why or how to resolve the problem if they can even identify what the problem may be. The other side is equally important. If you are reaching your goals but do not understand how or why then how do you know if you will reach them in the future?

For example, it’s the middle of the month and your goal is to sell 20 hearing aids, currently you’ve sold 5. There are a total of 10 hearing tests scheduled through the end of the month.  You know that the audiologist has a 70% closure ratio and an 80% binaural ratio.  What does all that mean?  It means that you can anticipate that those ten people will result in 11 hearing aids.

Is this an exact science, no?  But let’s say you had 3 hearing tests scheduled through the end of the month.  Based on the numbers above you could anticipate only 3 hearing aids to be sold by months end.  At this point you could pray for a miracle or know that something will need to be done to get at least 7 more people into the office by the end of the month.

This is when all the other programs begin to make sense.  If your recall program is working, let the recall person know that you need 7 more people. Or view your marketing data and drop an ad that has, in the past garnered 7 patients (keeping in mind your budget and any timelines).  Or ideally initiate a combination of the two programs.  Either way you are being proactive.

Sitting on the sidelines crossing your fingers and hoping it all works out may have been your mantra in the past, but in today’s increasingly competitive marketplace that’s not really a very good idea.