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Have you ever had to deal with a difficult employee? Being a good person does not make them a good employee. An employee that is toxic, a poor performer, untrustworthy, incompetent or simply doesn’t get along with others can change a corporate culture. Providing feedback and transparent communication should always be your first option. Leaders need to determine if the issue is a “will” or “skill” issue. Some employees may not realize what they need to improve on. It’s fair to say that most people want to do a good job and do not intend to be terminated when they start a new position. Start with coaching the employee and giving them an opportunity to improve. This, of course, varies by the severity of the issue.

Willis HR recommends progressive discipline when it comes to properly handling a difficult employee. Following progressive discipline offers an alternative solution that is also constructive. Our team likes to use the term “corrective action,” our intention is literally to “correct” the “action.”

The goal of this process is not to punish employees or even to fire them, but rather, to provide guidance, coaching, and learning opportunities for both the employee and supervisor. Addressing employee issues immediately is a good best practice to start, if you aren’t currently doing so. Being willing to have difficult conversations and being willing to terminate is one of the worst tasks of being a leader. You know what’s worse? Trying to hold on to unproductive employees that hinder the productivity of an entire team.

The typical process of a progressive discipline is typically broken into four steps:
• Phase One: Verbal Warning
• Phase Two: Written Warning
• Phase Three: Final Written Warning
• Phase Four: Termination

It’s a process! You must be willing to administer clear communication, expectations, coach when necessary and DOCUMENT EVERYTHING. We all know that if it’s not on paper, it didn’t happen! The best outcome is the employee changes the behavior, understands what is expected, and contributes in a great way to the business.
Follow these steps, have templates in place, and be sure the process is outlined in your Employee Handbook. Willis HR is a team of experts in handling difficult employees. Have questions? Get in touch today!

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