Labor Relations Software

How to Manage and Document Difficult Employee Behavior

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Problem Employees Are Your Problem Too: How to Manage and Document Difficult Employee Behavior


If you own a business or are a HR manager, you can relate to the notion that managing difficult employee behavior or poor performance is not easy.  The first step is to consider if the behavior constitutes a small infraction or if it is more of a chronic or repeated pattern of bad behavior or unsatisfactory employee performance.  Once this is determined, your best bet it is to nip it in the bud and convey your dissatisfaction to the employee before it becomes a bigger problem.  As in all cases in business or any interpersonal relationships, communication is key.

Immediate Action Is Required

Confront the employee right away—don’t let it worsen!  If the employee has committed a policy infraction, make it known to them.  Sometimes, he/she has done something unknowingly, or may be trying to get away with something through avoidance.  If you let it go initially, you may be sending the message that the behavior is OK and that could pose problems once you address it at a later date.  Also, broach the issue with the employee verbally first; if you initially communicate it in writing (whether it be via e-mail or in a written review or evaluation), the intent could be misinterpreted or the situation could escalate quickly as the employee may resent not being told about it in person, or given a chance to resolve it before it was documented in writing.

However, this does not mean that the behavior or lack of performance should not be documented.  You should always document any job-related or disciplinary issues immediately.  This can be stored in an employee file in HR—the equivalent of having a “paper trail” so that it can be referred to later in the event of an investigation or lawsuit on behalf of the employee.  It is also your way of establishing a pattern of behavior if it continues.

Don’t Just Dole Out Repercussions

When discussing the issue with the employee, come to the table with ideas or ways that the issue or behavior can be rectified; don’t just present the consequence without offering suggestions on a way to resolve it first.  If the employee has stated something offensive aloud or to another employee, maybe he/she needs a refresher course on harassment in the workplace or to review the policy in the employee handbook.  Maybe if it’s an issue of being late, then remind him/her of your company’s expectation for opening or arrival time. 

If it’s more of a performance issue and the employee is neglecting to complete certain tasks or requirements of his/her job, remind him/her of the job description and review the expectations for the position.  Or, maybe the employee is simply not versed enough in a particular aspect of the job (such as a technical requirement) and needs more training in that area.  The employee will likely appreciate being given suggestions for improvement instead of just being told that he/she is not working up to expectations.  Any of these scenarios demonstrate how offering solutions or an action plan for the employee will be more effective than just pointing out what he/she hasn’t accomplished or is neglecting to do to precipitate the discussion.

While it is always a challenge to navigate the issues surrounding difficult behavior or ineffective progress on the part of an employee in the workplace, if you discuss the issue swiftly and clearly, you are more liable to keep communication channels open and not invoke feelings of resentment or anger on the part of the employee, which could translate into much bigger problems down the line.

LaborSoft’s innovative HR technology is one of many integral solutions that keep your business, in business by helping you document employee infractions. Our employee relations analytics, case management workflows, and central repository of documentation streamlines case management to mitigate risk of operational bottlenecks, costly lawsuits, and legal ramifications stemming from HR issues and complaints. This sensitive data requires that maximum security protocols are in place and that your information is protected at all times.


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Contact us for a customized demonstration and learn how LaborSoft can help you improve communications, build a more collaborative, safe, and supportive workplace, while reducing the likelihood of costly litigation. 

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