As leaders, it’s often hard to know how to handle bad situations with employees. I have noticed that many team leaders talk about employees. They talk about what they are not doing or what they should be doing. They talk about how they are negatively impacting the team… how they gossip… how their skill level is not up to par.
The problem with this approach, of course, is that when we talk about an employee instead of to that employee, the problem doesn’t get resolved. It instead festers until it becomes a full-blown infection that can’t be easily remedied.
But the damage did not come from that employee. The real damage came from a leader not addressing the issues. Avoidance is growth’s biggest threat.
So, how should leaders handle these types of situations?
Understand Your Role
If being a leader were easy, the world would be full of leaders. Dealing with sticky situations doesn’t feel good. But that is a part of leadership. Understand your role and that your action can move the entire team forward, while your inaction can cause significant trauma to the department, individual employee, and the entire team.
Stop Then Start
Stop avoiding the employee and have the conversation you have been dreading. Then start documenting the behavior and send up emails to directives.
Don’t Wait for the Annual Evaluation Process
Feedback should be given throughout the year, not just at annual reviews. When you see something, say something. Nipping things in the bud is how you can encourage employee growth.
Have Courage and Conviction
It takes courage to let a team member go. But have the conviction to make the right decision. More often than not, letting someone go is not only good for the team but the individual as well. Sometimes setting them free is what they need to find a position that suits their skill set better.
Assess the Damage
If you haven’t addressed the issue in a timely manner, what has been the impact on the other staff members? They may question your leadership abilities because you waited so long to take action. Have they lost all motivation to come to work and do their own job because the climate has become toxic? Before you can make a clean-up plan, know exactly what damage has occurred.
Include Staff in the Cleanup
Make a plan to heal, because just moving on without acknowledging the impact can cause more harm and doesn’t allow the employees to voice their feelings, concerns, and input on how to move forward. Bring in someone skilled to assist you with the healing. You have to be a part of the conversation. You can’t be a spectator to the healing.
I have faced all of this. I used to be an avoider, but the issue doesn’t solve itself. So now I accept the responsibility to address the issues because I want to lead a healthy team and not be the cause of chaos that can sometimes occur if issues go unaddressed.
I encourage you to avoid avoidance at all costs. While avoidance may seem like an easy way out of a sticky situation at the time, it only makes things worse.
What are some steps you have taken in your department to deal with employees? Let me know in the comment section.
Debra Griffith is an Associate Vice President at San Jose State University| Trainer Facilitator | Strategist | Key Note Speaker | Coach