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Good Employee, Bad Behavior Part 2

When Things Are No Longer Working Out

Good Employee, Bad Behavior Part 2


By Mark Swartz

Canadian Workplace Specialist

It’s a shame to see a valued employee become unreliable. Sometimes it starts with small changes, like they’re coming in a little later than usual, missing a deadline or two for finishing an assignment, or can’t be found that one time you’re looking for them and need them right away.

Eventually this former star performer is more like a burned out meteor. The quality of their work is no longer acceptable, or their attitude has become intolerable.

When this negative pattern first emerged, you took that person aside for a one on one conversation. You thought you had addressed the key issues. The employee promised to improve and you provided them with the resources for them to do so. But things have become worse, not better.

Now what do you do?

Proceed With Caution

Here’s a question you can ask yourself when things reach a point where the employee is jeopardizing his or her job: “In spite of how much I may like or respect this person, is their decline in usefulness causing real problems for us, and will keeping them around create more difficulties than if we graciously relieved them of their current duties?”

Whatever it is that you do at this stage will be watched carefully by senior management, your colleagues, and the employee’s co-workers. You’re expected to manage your staff properly. So for all intents this employee’s “bad behaviour” isn’t reflecting well on you.

Now’s not the time to act in haste. You have several options to think about before making your next big move.

What You Can Do

If you’re a nice person and still want to support the affected employee instead of dismissing them, here are a few tactics you could try:

• Re-assign the employee to a lesser role or to a job where they won’t be so visible (this lets them stay employed and shows other staff members that you’ll treat them respectfully as well should problems affect their own work)

• Convince the employee to take a paid leave of absence until they can work out whatever it is that’s ailing them

• Put them on long-term disability (if you provide for this) and hold their job for a fixed period of time

Ultimately you have to think of your employer’s welfare as well. Thus if there is no choice left but to terminate the employee, maybe you could do so in a way that sends a comforting message to the remaining staff, by handling the process compassionately and discreetly. At least this way you’ll know you tried your best to turn things around, and when push came to shove not only did you not shirk your duties, but fulfilled them in a professional manner.