Prevention is better than the cure

Every manager has to deal with ‘problem’ staff. That’s why we have managers. It goes with the territory. Avoiding the problem won’t make it go away and will seriously undermine your credibility in the eyes of others. Initiating the person’s removal to another area can sometimes be a solution if the problem is caused by bad chemistry between the two of you. Usually, however, transferring the ‘problem’ person to another area is weak management. Here are some points to consider to prevent or address this situation: • Lead by example. Set the standard. Be a model of the same behaviours expected of staff. Observe company rules, safety standards, etc. and maintain high standards of job performance. Remember that your staff will take their cue from you. They will judge you by what you do not just what you say. • Act immediately. Unresolved problems will fester away and erupt more seriously at some later point. Many a serious problem could have been prevented if it had been nipped in the bud. • Be seen to attempt something positive. No action on your part will weaken your effectiveness to manage others. Other staff will wonder why they should comply when so and so gets away with it. • Be consistent. Avoid personal biases. Treat all staff in the same way to prevent being accused of victimisation or favouritism. • Clarify expected standards of performance. Ensure all staff are fully aware of what is expected and your perceptions of how staff are meeting those expectations. Allow staff to take responsibility for setting standards of performance for the team. Discuss and explain changes to policy and procedures before they come into effect. • Discipline in private. Avoid the humiliation and hostility caused by a public dressing down. • Act on complaints and grievances immediately. Regard complaints or grievances as early warnings of worse situations that could follow. • Deal with the problem yourself. Accept that the performance of your staff is your major responsibility. Passing the problem on to another area will be seen as weak management on your part. • Keep calm. If disciplinary action is needed, plan your approach. Gather all the facts about the situation before acting. • View it as an opportunity. Somebody will be hurting in this situation - consciously or otherwise. This is an opportunity to change something for the better. It can be an opportunity for people to learn something, to grow and develop. When men of talents are punished, authority is strengthened… Every example of punishment has in it some injustice, but the suffering individual is compensated by the public good. Tacitus, c.55 117 Roman orator, politician, and historian. Annals of the Julian Emperors. • Daniel Kehoe, author of the international best-selling books, ‘You Lead, They’ll Follow. How to inspire, lead and manage people. Really.’ Volumes 1, 2 and 3 published by McGraw Hill, delivers the You Lead, They’ll Follow Experience® for leadership, people management and business improvement to small, medium and large organisations. Systematic-Innovation® see T 08 9477 1135 E

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