Incentria

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Spotting A Problem Employee Early

5 min read

Every employee who will ever work for you has their own personality, just as you do. Some people are more outgoing than others. Some are loud, and some are quiet. There are ways of managing every single type of personality, and if you’re new to management, you might want to consult this helpful guide before going any further. Different types of employee personalities bring their own challenges (and rewards!), but ultimately you can manage almost anyone with enough nuance and experience.

We stress the ‘almost’ because there will always be some employees who just aren’t a good fit for you or your company. We live in an imperfect world, and an imperfect world will always deliver imperfect people. In every company and business all over the world, you will come across employees who do more harm than good, and when it happens, it’s in the best interests of everybody to identify them and remove them as quickly as possible. As the old saying goes, one bad apple can spoil a harvest, and a negative, disruptive employee can affect the performance of everybody around them.

In so far as is possible, the best place to weed out potentially undesirable employees is at the interview stage, through the use of intelligent questioning and practical tests. Even with those steps, though, some people will make it through. Hiring staff is a little like playing online slots such as Shamans Dream – you never quite know what you’ll end up with until you’ve paid your money and taken your chance. In this scenario, it’s the bad employee that’s won the online slots game – they just happened to be lucky enough to get past your gatekeepers, and so they’ve got your money! On the flip side, a good online slots player knows that the best thing to do when their luck isn’t in is to keep spinning and try again. Don’t get stuck with a wrong recruitment decision. Use the steps below to identify problem employees at the earliest opportunity and then go looking for a suitable replacement.

They’re Silent In Meetings

It’s a common misapprehension that employees who are critical in team meetings are harmful or disruptive. Negative or outspoken employees often care more than the people who are agreeing with everything you say. They can either foresee a problem, or they believe they have a better route to success. They can be irritating on occasion, but there are ways of harnessing their input and getting the best out of them. Never get rid of an employee purely because they seem negative to you.

Rather than focusing on who’s talking, pay more attention to who’s not talking. An engaged employee who has an interest in the prosperity of your company should at least have an opinion. Some people are naturally shy, but even shy people will speak up occasionally, and will always do so when directly asked. If an employee never has anything to say in a meeting and has nothing to contribute when directly asked, they probably don’t care about you or the job all that much. They’re disengaged, and that’s no good to you.

Repeated Raise Requests

There’s nothing wrong with asking for a raise or a promotion. In fact, the act of doing so suggests that you have a confident and ambitious employee on your hands, and they could be a real asset. A hard-working employee asking for a raise should be welcomed because not everyone has the courage to be so direct with their boss. That doesn’t mean you should always give them an increase, but have a frank conversation with them about what they would need to do to get one.

Disruptive employees will ask for raises apropos of nothing. They might do so within months of coming into the company, or do it at a time when they’re clearly far from being the best performing person at their grade. The biggest red flag is having someone who reels off multiple alternative offers they have from elsewhere. Someone who has already got one foot out of the door is unlikely to put both feet back in, so congratulate them and send them on their way.

Disproportionate Grievances

A bad employee likes to blame everybody other than themselves. That means that when things do go wrong, it will be someone else’s fault. They might even approach you directly to complain about the conduct or behavior of another member of staff. Every grievance should be taken seriously, but beware of any one individual who files multiple complaints about other workers. If nobody else is filing complaints about those workers, it’s more likely that they’re the problem.

Always look into the plausibility of any complaint based on the past conduct of the person being complained about, the likelihood of them being at fault, and the perspective of other people. While we’re on the topic of grievances, if multiple people file similar grievances about the same person, you have a problem child on your hands. We know we’re stating the obvious by saying that, but it’s true!

Early Absenteeism

We’ve all had the experience of being new in a job. We know how keen we are to make a good impression, and what it would take for us to miss a day at work when we’re new in a role. Everybody reading this has probably forced themselves to go to work sick before now, either because they don’t want to let their colleagues down, or because they don’t want to make a bad impression on their employer.

Bad employees don’t think like this. If they feel like taking a day off at short notice, they’ll just do it. If someone you’ve hired has had more than two days off during their first three months of employment with you, look long and hard at those absences. Life happens, and there could very well be legitimate reasons, but if the absences are separated by a few weeks, it’s likely that at least one of them wasn’t genuine. Someone who’s willing to take small liberties when they’re new to a company will take even larger liberties when they’ve settled into a role, and that’s a problem you don’t need.

Above all else, always place the most trust in your long-term staff. They’re the people who know the ethos and culture of your company best, and they’ll be the fastest to notice when someone doesn’t fit. Quick, decisive action means less pain for everybody in the long run, so don’t be afraid to take it.

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