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Management And Training

Managing problem employees

September 19, 2010
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The multitude of problems that some employees can create is amazingly high.

However, without employees we cannot move our companies forward or realize our dream of business success.

Working through problems, which will inevitably occur, is a skill that business managers need to develop.

Clear messages
Our mental health will depend on how well we cope with the responsibility and how the rest of the employees observe how we interpret the company rules.

Obviously the first idea is to make sure the rules are firmly understood by all employees.

Vague rules or inconsistent application of the rules will undermine any hope of getting employees accustomed to being properly managed.

Job descriptions that are worded precisely — with an employee expectation form — will make the process much easier.

Most employees are actually quite comfortable with consistent application of work and company rules.

Follow the leaders
Also, it is imperative that the company representatives also follow any rules designed for all employees, even if the employee is a relative of the manager or owner.

I recall an issue in my service company relating to a front office staff member.

This young woman was in charge of incoming phone calls and was our first line of customer service.

This young woman was very dedicated to her role as our first line of customer interface and did a very good job at her tasks.

During her employment, she had a steady boyfriend and, before an issue had happened, her relationship with him had ended.

This caused her to be less than stellar for several weeks, with tardiness becoming an increasing problem, along with a malaise that affected her usual cheerfulness in her job function.

Customers were noticing, according to general surveys that we conducted.

Often, she was in the executive offices, tearfully explaining that she was going to try to get better and her lateness would end starting the following day.

Of course, it did not.

Tough decisions
We were reaching the end of our rope, as we struggled to understand how to help or if we should separate from the problem and the employee.

I explained the problem to our company comptroller, also my wife, and asked advice on how to deal with this.

Previously in the retail fashion industry, my wife has had much more management experience, especially with young female workers.

She provided great insight into our dilemma and stated it was not important enough to our employee to be on time, even with our counseling and constant pleading to follow the rules.

Her advice was to advertise for her position and have the resumes sent to the offending employee.

When resumes began arriving at the office, the young lady asked us if she was getting help in her position.

She was informed that the resumes were being sent to replace her if her rule-breaking behavior continued.

When she sensed the gravity of the event, she began to straighten and fly right.

What a great motivational tool.

It taught our company a great lesson in cause and effect.

Have the employees regulate themselves.

Most employees in small- or medium-size businesses realize that we may not have a large stack of resumes or job applications on our desks.

Problem employees believe that they are difficult to replace and they sometimes take advantage of this fact.

We need to fully understand that this is not the case.

Two ways to motivate problematic employees are to have a constant parade of talent coming through the door for interviews and a recruitment plan that always assures the firm of having the next group of employees.

It almost works like having an umbrella on a cloudy day.

When prepared for what lies ahead, many times the sun shines brightly.

Dane Gregory is a business consultant and trainer specializing in working with companies in the professional cleaning industry. He currently trains technicians in the use of cleaning protocols for stone, tile and masonry surfaces for IICRC Certification. He also offers a business opportunity for newcomers in the cleaning industry in the care of ceramic tile, stone and grout, with a full equipment and training package. He can be contacted at or at

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