We all seem to have had this situation…. You’ve got an employee that’s becoming an issue. Maybe they aren’t getting their job done, are just plain difficult to deal with, or are causing morale issues. No matter what it is, it’s a difficult situation. Sorry to disappoint, but this article isn’t necessarily going to give you the solution to your problem, but don’t stop reading! This article is going to help you prepare and be proactive now, so that if nothing works and you need to let your employee go, you’ll be less likely to get sued, and have a system in place to try to prevent it from happening again.
#1 | Define Expectations & Communicate
Expectations need to be clear, fair, and consistent. There are company expectations and there are position expectations. Both need to be communicated. They should be communicated not just when an employee starts, but should be woven into things like staff meetings, performance reviews, and casual conversation.
Don’t be vague…. you can’t simply tell a worker he/she must “show up on time,” instead say, “Your job begins at 8:30am, at which time you should be at your desk, logged into your computer, and beginning to work on your tasks.”
Describe the behavior or performance that must change (or that you want to continue). Avoid making broad judgment words…. don’t use “always” and “never.” Those phrases can easily be disputed if a lawsuit occurs.
Make sure the employee knows what will or could happen if the behavior or poor performance continues.
#2 | Documentation
Documentation is key.
When employees fail to meet expectations, ideally, each instance should be noted in some way in his/her employee file.
Every time you communicate with an employee about a needed behavior or performance change, make sure a note about that conversation gets into his/her file. Also include the employee’s explanation for why expectations aren’t being met.
Remember that your documentation may need to be reviewed by a third party (internal or external). Make sure you include enough information so that others know what happened, what steps were taken, that the employee was given an opportunity to correct performance, and what consequences may occur if the behavior or performance does not improve.
Why Being Proactive Is Important
If you do not keep documentation about performance or behavior issues as they occur, you may get yourself into trouble later if you are ever hit with a lawsuit. Common employment related lawsuits are Wrongful Termination, Discrimination, and Workplace Harassment. I’m sure you can imagine how much better off you’ll be having proper documentation rather than not.
Also, employees that are communicated with properly, fairly, and respectfully are less likely to want to file a lawsuit than those who are not.