Employment Update for Small Businesses
This month we welcome our brand new Consultancy Assistant, Jodie Fossey, to PEELS. Jodie will be providing me with much needed support in the office, and with day to day advisory matters. Jodie has a wealth of relevant skills and experience, from working in management as well as in various support and advisory roles. She is looking forward to expanding and deepening her employment law knowledge.
Also this month we touch on the vexed issue of how to tackle those problematic employees. Never easy, but with some practical tips and further help, certainly not insurmountable.
Please contact me if you would like to find out a bit more about any of the subjects raised in this update or if you need any help or advice.
Please forward this email to any of your contacts who might find it of benefit.
Are you shying away from tackling difficult employees?
Practical tips for conducting those difficult meetings
From time to time employers will find that an employee is not performing to the required standard. Sometimes this may be a temporary issue which is perhaps related to an illness or some problem in their private life and will naturally resolve itself. However, occasionally you may find that more direct action is required.
I often find that employers are not sure how to raise these issues with employees and feel that they are going to end up in a confrontation. Whilst it is never easy, there are a few practical tips that you can follow that should help.
Start out by telling the employee that you want to talk about their performance as you have some concerns. Reassure them that this is an informal meeting and you intend merely having a talk with them to try to address some of your concerns. Make sure you have somewhere private to talk to them where you will be free from interruptions.
Raise the issues in terms of what you have observed without attaching any blame. For example, if someone working in a shop continually records sales under a miscellaneous code, rather than assigning correct product codes, it may be better to say something like: “I noticed yesterday that you sold some printer cartridges and paper but recorded them as miscellaneous rather than stationery. Why was that?” instead of “You ignore our sales procedures and keep recording items wrongly, that has to stop”. It may be a subtle difference but can have a dramatic effect on the way the employee responds. In the first case you are just stating what you have seen and asking them to explain; in the second case you are accusing them and immediately putting them on the defensive.
In cases of misconduct it is better to talk about the particular behaviour that is causing you concern rather than labelling the employee. For instance, if someone is continuously bad-tempered at work and upsetting other employees, you may want to consider saying something like: “I noticed that you spoke quite harshly to Ann yesterday when she asked if you could help her to get the post ready to go. She looked put out and was obviously upset. Did you realise that she was upset?” Sometimes it can be tempting to say something like: “Why were you bullying Ann yesterday when she was only asking for help?”
It is always best to use specific examples – things you have observed yourself wherever possible – rather than talking in generalities. So in the bad-tempered employee example, above, you wouldn’t want to say something like “You are always angry and aggressive when dealing with colleagues”, as the employee is likely to challenge such a sweeping statement and react angrily. You are also less likely to maintain your credibility if you then find you cannot come up with a specific example when challenged.
If you need more help dealing with these sorts of issues, please contact us to discuss how we can help. Whether this is training for you and your managers, or more hands-on support with a particular issues, we would be happy to help.