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The AR Group

Decide How to Deal with Problem Employees ? Before You Have One

By: Jeanette S. Eirich

In his 2005 book, The Savvy Entrepreneur ? An Insider’s Secrets to Managing for Success, author W. Lee Pryor describes the unenviable but necessary five steps to managing a “Non-Performer” employee up to and including termination.? His advice is well taken.? The time to decide how a manager-owner-entrepreneur will deal with “non-performers” however, is NOT when you have a non-performer or problem employee. recently reported that only 19% of US and Canadian workers are satisfied with their jobs.[i] A business entrepreneur (manager/owner) must recognize and accept that not every employee is suited to every job, even if first impressions may suggest otherwise.? The most practical, albeit pessimistic, approach is akin to the prenuptial agreement; a plan should the relationship go awry.

As uncomfortable as the scenario might be, a successful entrepreneur must contemplate how he/she will respond when confronted with a problem employee.? Some suggestions to ease the stress and tension of addressing problem employees/non-performers include:

1.???????? Have in place an Employee Handbook that includes guidance related to ?Standards of Conduct? enabling employees to gain insight into fundamental standards of what is and is not acceptable (e.g., stealing, misrepresentation, violation of clearly stated company policies, customer/client disrespect, with clearly communicated examples/standards, or violation of any applicable professional licensing standards).

2.???????? Establish objective criteria by which performance will be managed, continuously and routinely evaluated (or at least on an annual basis), and provide examples of subjective standards, if any.? Try to establish periodic updates which provide more mutual dialogue rather than one-sided evaluations.

3.???????? Encourage interaction with management. Be truly accessible such that employees feel confident in approaching even the most upper echelons of management with issues and concerns to avoid festering and combativeness.

Smart Tip:? Because in-artfully drafted employee handbooks can be construed as establishment of an employment contract, request an attorney to conduct a review before distributing your handbook or compilation of policies to employees.

Running a business is stressful enough and personnel issues only add to the joy or misery of bringing ideas to the market.? Be prepared for the worst and plan for the best.


[i] Susan Adams, New Survey: Majority of Employees Dissatisfied, available at last viewed Dec. 24, 2013.