How to Deal with That Problem Employee

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At some point, you’re going to run into an employee who just isn’t performing up to your expectations. You’ll be lucky if that happens only once, but as Dennis McCafferty points out on CIO Insight, business owners too often let poor performance slide without ever dealing with the problem directly.

Some employees constantly arrive late to work while others can’t seem to grasp the concept of deadlines. Perhaps you have an employee whose brilliant-but-mercurial personality has alienated, well, everyone. If that’s the case, it’s long past time to have a constructive conversation to correct the problem. Otherwise, these personnel problems can damage productivity and even your company’s reputation.

Your goal should be to correct the problem, not create a confrontation, so careful planning is essential. These tips from Dan McCarthy, director of executive development programs at the University of New Hampshire, can help.

9 Steps to Fix Problem Performers

1. Collect as much information about the problem from as many sources as possible. This will help you convince both yourself and the employee in question that the problem exists – and that the behavior must change.

2. Before you sit down with the employee, organize your thoughts and write an outline of all the points you want to cover.  This ensures that you don’t forget any important issues.

3. You’re not here to punish the employee or to vent your spleen. The point is to help this employee improve his or her performance.

4. Discretion works in everyone’s favor. Choose a quiet time and a private place to respect privacy and to minimize distractions.

5. Don’t focus only on what’s wrong with your employee’s behavior; be sure he or she understands the impact the behavior has on your business and why it’s important to change.

6. Ask the employee what action steps he or she can take to improve. Incorporating those appropriate ideas will increase the likelihood of compliance.

7. Wrap up your meeting with a list of the actions to be taken, a timetable for those actions and, of course, your employee’s agreement to comply.

8. As you clearly state the consequences of not meeting the goal, be sure to tell your employee that you believe he or she is capable of achieving it.

9. When the meeting ends, document the conversation and all of the agreed-upon terms. Keep that record on file and schedule follow-up appointments.

Adapted from Nine Ways to Correct an Employee Performance Issue by Dennis McCafferty at CIO Insight. Follow CIO Insight on Twitter