“No one has ever been fired for a bad attitude. Sure, attitude may be the reason given, but the real reason was poor behavior. We cannot know another person’s attitude (whatever that is) but you can observe and act on behaviors,” Bruce Clarke, CAI’s president and CEO, says in the latest edition of his News & Observer column, “The View from HR.”
Some managers are quick to say that their poor performing employees have bad attitudes. However, if they observe the actions of their poor performers and offer suggestions for improvement, managers can turn employees with perceived bad attitudes into productive workers who positively affect the company’s bottom line.
Knowing how to correctly handle an employee with a behavior problem is invaluable for employers. Threatening to fire or demote an employee the next time she displays poor behavior will do little to help improve her work performance. Use the information below to help resolve behavioral issues at your company:
Use specific examples of poor performance that you have witnessed when addressing these employees. Exaggeration and hearsay from others is not helpful and may cause employees to hold resentment or perform even worse. Communicate effectively by telling your poor performer what you expect from him and what the consequences are for not meeting expectations. Doing this gives him an opportunity to improve and also allows you to check his progress to see if further action is needed.
Inadequate training can be the culprit of problem performance at your organization. Talk with your employees to make sure they are informed about the skills and experience needed for their positions. If poor training is the reason, retrain them correctly and give them time to adjust to their updated roles. Sometimes analyzing training reveals that an employee is actually not the best fit for her job. If this occurs, see if she has tasks that you can give to another employee or if you can reassign her to a new position.
Employees with unsuitable workplace behavior should have increased supervision. Micromanaging is not necessary, but checking in with them frequently will help you determine if they can improve or if you need to let them go. Once you and your poor performer agree on an improvement plan, set up a weekly meeting to assess his progress and uncover any obstacles that he may be facing. Reward employees or take further disciplinary action based on the information you learn from these meetings. Keep these meetings documented so you and the employee have a record of his workplace behavior. Documenting these meetings also will be legally helpful if terminating an employee becomes an option.
Be swift when dealing with employees who display poor workplace behavior. Addressing the issue quickly will show your intolerance for unsatisfactory performance. Failing to do so will lower your team’s morale because productive staff members will be responsible for carrying the weight of their less productive colleagues. You are also in danger of wasting time, energy, resources and money when you accept poor employee performance. Call CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746 for additional guidance on performance management issues.