Monday, November 16, 2009

If You Can Lick A Stamp You Can Lick Your Employee Problems

Wondering what to do with a problem employee? You are not alone.

As a Business Coach I’m often asked how to deal with everything from an employee who just can’t get along with their co-workers, to someone who’s consistently late, to a willing but clueless new-be, or of course the all too famous, “attitude problem.”

To deal with them effectively, it’s essential to understand the nature of the problem – is it skills based, or is it behavioral? Once you understand this, it gets a lot easier!!!!

Skills based performance problems are those that can be typically addressed through training. This includes customer service skills, technical skills, and retail sales skills. If you’re hiring new talent right out of school, who have no previous experience in sales or customer service, (don’t kid yourself - they don’t), then you’d be wise NOT to underestimate the time and effort it will take on your part to train them. The rewards for this however, will be a happy, productive employee who is motivated to stay because they understand how to be successful and they feel like they are learning. Whenever in doubt, teach – learning is a very powerful motivator, especially for Generation Y employees.

Behavior based problems are more difficult to address and will not be fixed by training. A different approach is called for here. Many of you may go for the “3 strikes and you’re out” model of discipline, which might very well work for you as long as you stick to it! If an employee is on their 4th 5th or even 6th strike and they’re still around, then you’ve clearly sent a message that you tolerate bad behavior. (Lateness, rudeness, disrespect, a lack of ability to get along with co-workers and an “attitude problem” are all typical examples of bad behavior.)You have also, of course, sent that message not only to the offending employee, but to all your other employees.
Here is a 6 step process for dealing with a problem employee:

  1. Meet with the employee and describe the his or her specific skill or behavior issues
    • Talk about the issues, not about the employee's poor effort.
    • Describe the results of the employee's performance.
  2. Describe the expected standards of employee performance Be specific. Don't say you have a “poor” attitude; instead list specific occurrences that illustrate problematic behavior. 
  3. Determine the cause of the issues
    • Does the employee lack training, skills, knowledge?
    • Is there a lack of motivation, incentive?
    • Are there external factors involved (family, financial, etc.)?
    • Are there factors beyond the employee's control affecting the performance? 
  4. Ask the employee for solution(s) What could the employee do to improve this situation? 
  5. Discuss each solution with the employee
    • How will this solution help with the employee's problem?
    • Discuss your solution(s).
    • Try to jointly improve upon the solutions. 
  6. Agree on specific actions to be done and a time frame to implement them.Arrange for another meeting in the future to track the progress/results of the solution.
Believe it or not: fixing an existing problem is cheaper than recruiting, hiring, and training a replacement employee. A problem employee who is “rehabilitated” could become one of your Salon or Spa’s greatest assets one day.

Bottom line: The trick in dealing with problem employees is addressing the problem quickly and finding a solution to rectify the challenge -NOT putting a bandage on it or turning your back all together.

Ana Loiselle, Milady Business Coach

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