Strategies for Working with Problem Employees

We have all experienced a coworker or employee with a bad attitude. They might show up late every day or struggle to complete tasks on time. These employees may be wonderful individuals, but their failure to adhere to company policy makes workplace productivity difficult. 

Employees who don’t fit in or struggle with problem behaviors make it challenging for employers and the company’s bottom line. Even if an employer hires someone unsuitable, there are steps management can take to change the employee’s behavior and improve work performance. 

Here’s what a problem employee is and strategies for improving their behavior through employee monitoring software.

What is a Problem Employee?

A problem employee presents workplace challenges, like low productivity, poor work comprehension, or workplace conflict. 

Problem employees may exhibit the following behaviors:

  1. Failures in performance or completing tasks or responsibilities
  2. Exhibiting a bad attitude
  3. Undermining management

Quite often, confronting employees’ problems can help improve their productivity. In some instances, it might result in positive behavioral changes. 

Employers can easily identify problem employees through employee monitoring software. This software collects data and can pinpoint productivity red flags and problem areas. You may have to consider workplace changes to address larger productivity issues like high turnover rates and low employee engagement. 

Why You Need to Manage Problem Employees

When you have a difficult employee, it reflects poorly on the company and significantly reduces the amount of work being done. For example, if your employee has to meet with clients, they could say or do the wrong thing and cost your company money. 

Difficult employees affect not only their coworkers but also the business in general. They can reduce output and aspiration, foster distrust within the team, destroy your company’s integrity, and more. 

Challenging employees can impair management effectiveness and reputation. This, in turn, might cause upper-level management to be less motivated or distracted in day-to-day tasks.

7 Effective Strategies for Working With Problem Employees

Managing problem employees can be time-consuming, but some techniques can drastically improve behavior.

Start by Identifying and Understanding the Issue

List the problems the employee is causing, with as many details as possible. If multiple problem areas exist, make sure they are all listed separately. You will need to document your work and findings to find practical solutions. 

You may need employee tracking software to identify these behaviors. This software can tell you which employees are committing time theft, who are struggling with simple tasks, which employees are chatting with coworkers, and more.

Consider that there may be an underlying problem within work or personal issues, typically requiring an in-depth discussion with the employee. Identifying and understanding alone can sometimes resolve problematic behavior.

Address Poor Productivity Behaviors and Not The Person

When we look at and talk about people’s behaviors, we should concentrate on specific negative behaviors, not the person themselves. You should be ready to offer specific examples of harmful or destructive behavior and how it has impacted the workplace. 

What if they don’t know what they’re doing is wrong? Informing the employee about the issue can be effective. It may be as simple as letting them know they aren’t as productive as they should be and that they need to try some simple productivity tips for improvement.

When you focus on addressing the behavior instead of the individual, the employee is less likely to react defensively and may be able to listen more clearly to what you have to say.

Give Clear Feedback

Feedback is essential, no matter the type of employee. It can help turn around poor employee behaviors and boost high-performing employees with good feedback. 

Clear feedback helps employees understand exactly what’s expected of them, lowering the chance of breaching company policies. This is especially important in remote and hybrid workplaces where communication is challenging. Remember to document the conversions and continue to track employee behaviors.

Be Consistent

Consistency in dealing with employees is crucial to maintaining an efficient and productive workforce. It would be best if you were consistent in your actions, even when dealing with a one-off incident with a star employee. It’s hard to do anything consistently in a busy workplace, so set up an employee monitoring system that streamlines this process for you.

Employees will follow your example. If you are correcting the behavior of an underperforming employee, you must set the standard that that behavior is unacceptable for every employee. 

Use Powerful Monitoring Software

If you have a problem with any of your employees, document the behavior to prove it if necessary. In addition to personnel files and written reports/reprimands, you can use employee monitoring software to track poor performance issues. 

Employee monitoring software allows business owners and managers to monitor employee performance, productivity and behaviors. You’ll be in a position to keep track of the big picture and see how everything works together. You’ll also help by providing quality feedback and suggestions on how to do things better in the future.

Data provides a look into behavior patterns and records the improvements made after they are handled. Evaluating progress is vital to know if the proper steps have been taken.

Establish Consequences 

If the bad behavior persists, it’ll be necessary to follow up with some real consequences. Guide employees to help them better perform their tasks. If, after a timeline for improvement has been established and passed, the employee has been unable to solve the problem, then it is your responsibility to enact consequences. 

The reality is that employees are much more productive when they believe management takes their complaints and drawbacks seriously and has a plan to address them. 

Be Open to Feedback

Having a tough conversation with a problem employee is often necessary to solve things early on. Prep your team for these conversations by having challenging discussions. This will make them more receptive and accepting of what you have to say.

When addressing an employee with a problem, it also helps to listen. Something in the company culture or management style may have caused the issue—make sure you explore all angles before taking action. Understanding where an employee comes from is vital to work together on a solution.

How Employee Monitoring Can Help with Problem Employees

Before escalating a situation with a challenging employee, it is vital to ensure that you cover all the ground in ensuring that your workplace and business are secure. Be fair, keep a record of problem behaviors, and deliver feedback. 

Employee monitoring software can help managers track and address employee well-being. After those less-than-ideal behaviors are identified, monitoring software can help provide a reason to celebrate when the changes take hold. This can prevent negative consequences for the problematic employee, such as pushback or negative perception from the public.

Stay focused because your employees will ultimately benefit if you can handle professional setbacks. SoftActivity Activity Monitor will let you monitor and address issues you may have as a manager; this is how you can show your team how much they’re appreciated. 
Try Activity Monitor for a free seven-day trial to see how SoftActivity can work for you.

By SoftActivity Team.

January 2nd, 2023