We all come across individuals at times who leave us feeling upset, negative and low. Those people who are vexations of the spirit, who abuse you as soon as they look at you, who are unreasonable, malicious and manipulative can destroy a workplace. These people need to be counselled, and if improvement is not forthcoming, they need to be moved along.
Your workplace and the rest of your team are far too valuable to be destroyed.
Firstly look at your recruitment processes. Do you have the necessary skills to read people and make judgments about their interpersonal skills? Look for certain traits that may highlight deeper issues. These could include low self-esteem or vindictive qualities, being impulsive with tendencies for hyperbole. Do they make unnecessary comments about previous workplaces, colleagues or bosses?
Review their work history – why did they leave certain jobs, does their work pattern look stable? Do their answers and body language support the information in their resume? Don’t assume people tell you the truth.
Do you have a vague feeling that something is not adding up? Don’t just supress that feeling, but delve deeper – gut feelings can be very intuitive.
Give them a really good ethical question and listen to their answer. What was their body language like when they answered, relaxed or tense, squirming or avoiding eye contact. Was their tone overly bright, forced, underhand? Did the content of their answer match the tone and personification of their body language?
Listen for personal information (illegal to ask) but often dropped by the candidate. From this you can gain an understanding of any personal issues they are going through, their attitude to family, their relationships and generally the stability of their life.
If you are starting to see some red lights, ask them questions about colleagues and management in their previous work places. Did they ever have a situation where they felt badly done by? What happened? How did they feel? Who was to blame? Can be very interesting listening.
Pre-employment vetting is very important when taking on a new staff member. Make sure you do all the references and don’t just ask the obvious questions, but if concerned dig a little deeper into personality traits, actions and teamwork. Undertake some psychometric testing like a DISC profile. This can highlight strong traits that may need to be managed.
Once workers are in your organisation, you need to keep to a regular system of training in workplace rules and behaviour. This should start with the induction and follow through to regular training, strong policies and leading by example.
Be vigilant about behaviours you are not comfortable with. Ensure every worker has a clear understanding of the parameters of suitable behaviour and what will not be tolerated. Be quite public in enforcing this, so your actions deter negative behaviours from others.
Carelessness and lack of attention to detail can be just as detrimental to the workplace as interpersonal issues. Workers not doing their duty can aggravate other workers and the lack of response from management can lead to good workers resigning. Nip carelessness in the bud. Notice workers who demonstrate excellence in attention to detail, and publically reward it, to develop a stronger culture. Performance manage those who do not work to standard, and do not give up. Do not let your own standards slide, because it is easier that making a fuss.
Slack workers stem from slack managers. Make a fuss.
Sometimes good workers become involved in personal situations that can have huge effects on not only their work, but the work of their colleagues. Be attuned to these issues, understand your workers and talk with them. Support them in difficult situations and monitor regularly. Don’t wait till the situation has become desperate and their work is failing, before you become involved. If their work is being effected or they are affecting others, you need to be involved.
If you had a box of fresh apples and you noticed one was going bad, you would first try a save some of the apple, but ultimately you would remove it from the box. No point having the whole box go bad!
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