HR Expert Tips & Advice for Managing & Terminating Difficult Employees

The role of an HR specialist is to recruit, train and support employees. The HR department also has the tough roles of disciplining, managing and terminating employees which is never easy. However, these roles can be done in a professional manner if following the right steps, which will allow you to avoid stressful and emotional outcomes.

Managing Difficult Employees

Effectively managing difficult employees can be challenging. The key to effectively addressing these issues begins with understanding the problem. Ask yourself whether the behaviour of the employee is bad enough to implement a formal HR process. To constitute a ‘difficult employee’, the behaviour must exceed acceptable standards, policies and procedures or interfere with productivity.

Sometimes however you need to STOP and look at the whole situation. If a person’s behavior, attitude or work performance is starting to decline then what else is going on?  Not only at work but outside of the workplace. Sometimes it may be as simple of asking them “RUOK” we have this day in September each year (RUOK Day) but it really needs to be every day. Once you have ruled out anything else then proceed.

When addressing the problems with the employee, the focus should always be on job performance. It is management’s duty to clearly explain why the issue is a problem and how the problem is impacting the company. Refer to the employees’ job description and the company policies and procedures and how this behaviour contradicts it. It is important that both the manager and employee are absolutely clear on individual roles. A key concept that employees must grasp is that it is not only the level of their performance that is important but also how the individual’s performance affects the functioning of an entire team, department and the company overall.

Then, the manager should clarify the employee’s responsibilities, the impact of behaviour and the consequences if the behaviour does not change. A follow-up and ongoing review should be scheduled. Regular updates between the manager and employee will help to move things forward and get the employee back on track.

When you look at the possibly of termination you need to also look at the process you have followed, and some important factors are; (but not limited to)

  • Was the employee made aware of the problems; and
  • Were they given an opportunity to improve.

If you are not sure you are strongly advised to seek advice – ignorance is now excuse when it comes to defending unfair dismissal challenges.

Employee Termination

Not knowing how to fire someone properly can land your company in an expensive legal battle. Termination should be a result of validated behaviour and attitude, under performance or constant absenteeism. It’s a great idea to always remember “if it is not written down it didn’t happen” this way you can be assured that you have the supporting paperwork, information and investigation notes to justify and support a dismissal.

Behavioural issues are a common reason for firing someone. Allowing bad behaviour to continue after warnings set a bad example for other employees. The same can be said about employees who do not meet performance goals after being provided with fair performance evaluations or warnings. Termination for bad attitude may be difficult, legally speaking.  You will need to document specific examples of the attitude problems first and provide adequate warnings.

If employee attendance consistently violates company policy, be sure to document every case and make the employee aware of the process and its consequences

Terminating an employee is never easy. A solid process around terminating employees will ultimately be a better situation for everyone involved and ensuring that the right methods, fair action and documented proof is provided will avoid legal proceedings. Also, giving the employee his or her chance to counter these warnings and sufficient time to change that which is observed is fair and necessary.  There are times however when an employer will have to make the tough decision to dismiss and employee knowing full well that there is a risk of a claim being made against the company. Often, this is the best commercial decision, in spite of the risks, as keeping an ill performing or disruptive employee in the workforce is overall more dangerous and problamatic than facing a claim. For more information on HR expert advice visit our website!