If you’ve seen this week’s Apprentice episode, and have managed to bring your cringing hands away from covering your eyes, we’re going to talk about disruptive employees. I think you’ll know who I’m talking about…
The disruptive employee – highlighting the issue
It’s a human problem, sometimes people just don’t get on. Often, they can accept it and move on, but when someone rubs everyone up the wrong way in your office it can be difficult to get anything done.
Obviously, as it will likely be a personality thing, handling the issue carefully is a must. Don’t go charging in like Lord Sugar telling them to “stop acting like a clown”, as that could only compound the issue and bring you further problems in future.
The best way to approach it first would be through an informal meeting to highlight the issue. Be clear about what you are going to talk about and how you expect things to change, and why, presenting any evidence that you may have of their behaviour. Letting them get a word in and avoid telling them to “shut it” like Lord Sugar would also be advisable!
If they are in a customer facing role, rather than just an office environment, it might also be an opportunity to explain how their behaviour could reflect on the business as a whole. As last night’s episode of The Apprentice showed, a bad customer experience can make a mockery of a person or organisation’s otherwise respected name.
Taking it to the board room – what to do if behaviour doesn’t improve
You’ve got a couple of options in this instance.
It could be that you want to do a Lord Sugar and use your right to bring them in for a disciplinary hearing, telling them that if they don’t improve they will be dismissed. Following the formal disciplinary procedure here though is essential, as mentioned last week, The Apprentice is not the best model for this sort of process!
Otherwise, if they are causing a real problem there is the option of a compromise agreement – i.e. negotiating a sum by which they agree not to bring any further claim against you as an employer. It’s a drastic step, but obviously depends on the circumstances. If your customers are describing their customer service as ‘torture’ for example…!
In all situations though, this sort of thing can be bypassed using a probationary period in your contract of employment. You can usually tell if they’re going to be disruptive within the first few weeks, and this gives you the opportunity to break ties with them fairly easily without any issues arising – as long as they are not being treated differently as a result of any protected characteristics they may have. Although not part of employment legislation, if included in your employment contract this will be legally binding.
The Apprentice at the moment would seem to be one long probation period, with candidates dropping left right and centre if they put a foot wrong.Here’s hoping some of the more disruptive members are soon axed, as they’re starting to get on my nerves let alone Lord Sugar’s!
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