Tag Archives | frustrating staff

Difficult employee? Here’s how to manage them…

Do you have a difficult employee that doesn’t do what you ask them to do?

Maybe they’re not returning customer phone calls, not turning up to work on time, or not following company procedures. Behaviour which started as annoying has become untenable.

You’re frustrated and thinking, “I’ve asked them a thousand times! They just don’t care enough.”

Managing a difficult employee can be frustrating, especially when you feel like you’re constantly locking horns.

If you’ve had enough, before taking disciplinary action, ensure that you have communicated effectively what they’re required to do. True communication is what’s been understood, not what you think you’ve said!

Difficult employee, management

There are three reasons an employee may not do what you ask. They are:

  1. They don’t know what to do
  2. They don’t know why it’s important
  3. Yes – you guessed it – they just don’t want to.

Before making the assumption that they’re a difficult employee who just doesn’t care enough to do what you’ve asked, ensure you have given them everything they need to do the task.

Outline what’s required

Make sure the employee knows exactly what you require. You could include a description of the desired result, the best way to do it, the quality you expect, and the timeframe in which you want it done. For example:

“Bob, I’m not sure I communicated correctly what’s required. The end result we need is for the report to contain accurate information under all the headings listed on the contents page. You can get the information from each of the department managers. The report is usually around 20 pages long. We need it to have the formatting detailed in our style guide, and I expect a thorough grammar and spell check. It needs to be completed by 2pm each Monday for me to review before I issue it on Tuesday morning.”

Explain why it’s important

Then explain why it needs to be done the way you’ve asked. You might say:

“It’s important that the contents are the same each week as it provides consistency and allows us to compare the latest weeks’ results against other weeks. Grammar, spelling, and style are all important as it’s a reflection of our standards and professionalism. It must be to me by 2pm Monday or I can’t meet the Board’s deadline.”

The next step is to ensure they’ve understood what you’ve asked them to do, so ask them to repeat it back to you. You could say,

“Just so I can ensure I’ve explained that correctly, can you replay to me what’s required?”

If they leave out anything, such as deadlines, remind them what it is and why it’s important. Ask them if they have any problems doing what you’ve asked:

“Can you see any challenges that might stop that happening?” 

If they say they don’t know how to do something, go over it with them again or make a time to train them. If they need another explanation of what’s required, give one. It’s important that you and your employee are both confident they have all the skills and tools required to do the task.

Now it’s up to them…

Once you have their agreement, let them show you what they can do. If they continue to not do what’s required, you can have a discussion with them along the lines of:

“Bob, last week we discussed in depth what was required, and why it was important, and you committed to doing it, but it hasn’t been done. Can you tell me about that?”

If their reasons are valid, address them and help find solutions. If your employee says, for instance:

“I have two major reports due on the same day, and I’m not getting the information from the managers in time to collate them both by the deadline.”

…discuss with them ways to arrange their priorities to meet both deadlines, or if possible see if one deadline can be changed.

Enforce consequences

If they do what’s asked, they get to keep their job! If they continue to be a difficult employee and give you excuses, let them know that if the task isn’t completed as required next time you’ll have to assume that they just don’t care enough to do it, and you’ll have choice but to take appropriate action (for example, to give them a written warning). And make sure you follow through.

For more help managing your team, download our e-book: The Four Essential Habits of Effective Managers

Do you still want a dream team of employees in your business?

Do you want a team of high-performing employees in your business? 

Have you got some star players, but a few stragglers bringing the team down? 

Do you want to stop “oiling the squeaky wheel” so you can spend time developing your key staff?

When you started out in business you dreamed of having a team of passionate people working with you to build the best business in your field. If you’re like most business leaders, sadly after a few years you’ve found the reality falls short of what you’d hoped for.

Some business owners resign themselves to the notion that having a great team just isn’t possible.

Better employees, better business

But we believe having a great team isn’t only possible, but a certainty when you implement the right systems and manage your team in an effective way.

The team you’ve got today is a result of the standards you’ve set until now. Are you ready to stop settling for second-rate performance from your staff?

To get a different outcome you’ll need to do different things. Are you ready to do what it takes to get your team to either step up or step out?

Follow our tips below to get them moving in the right direction …

Leadership, employees

How to create a high-performing team …

The first step is to ensure each team member knows what great performance looks like. You can ensure this by providing them with the following:

1. Team Culture Statement

Every team has a culture, whether it’s defined or not. Unfortunately sometimes it’s a toxic one! The behaviour you’ve settled for means that the original standards of performance you set may have slipped. As new employees join your business, they follow the ‘norm’ of how everyone else is behaving rather than performing at the level you’d like.

It’s important that you create a culture statement in your business that outlines expected behaviour. We call this the Rules of the Game.

Our culture statement includes our non-negotiable values, including excellence and fun. Each team meeting we assess how we’ve lived up to those standards, and how we’ve observed it in each other.

A culture statement isn’t merely a laminated piece of paper on your office wall, or a statement on your website! It must be the ingrained way of ‘how we do things around here’.

2. Position Descriptions

As your business has grown, you may not have taken the time to record what each person’s position involves. Even if someone has been doing a role for years, it’s essential that their duties and main areas of responsibility are visible to them and their team-mates. This avoids the notion that ‘someone should ….’ and lets everyone know who is responsible for what.

As well as a position description, an updated organisation chart should be provided to each employee so they can clearly see where their role fits within the business, and their reporting lines.

3. Key Performance Indicators

In addition to knowing the rules of the game, key responsibilities and where they fit in the organisation, it’s essential that employees know how and when how they will be assessed on their performance.

A document outlining key performance indicators for their role should be provided to each employee and reviewed at regular intervals.

KPIs should include not only the technical aspects of their role, but also categories such as customer service, admin and systems, WHS, and team membership.

Most business owners hire for skills but fire for behaviour. Have you ever employed a brilliant technician who despite their great technical skills was terrible at customer service, who your other team members didn’t like, or who rarely completed time sheets or followed systems?

Ensuring each team member knows the expectation of them in each of these categories means that you can manage them up or out based on any area of their performance.

Download our e-book “How To Get A Great Team Culture: Bringing Out The Best In Your Team” 

Leadership, teamwork, employees

 

Keeping standards high
How to ensure they stay on track

When you set guidelines for your team by providing a team culture statement, position descriptions and KPIs, you’ll find that your team members either rise to the challenge or deselect themselves.

It’s not unusual for a few changes to occur in your team when standards are raised and enforced.

This is a positive step forward, as now you can recruit new people who will perform from the outset according to your high standards and expectations.

To ensure continued excellence, you can then:

  • Maintain standards using regular communication
  • Give feedback to adjust or encourage performance
  • Coach your team members to improve their performance, and
  • Delegate effectively to grow your employees’ abilities.

Find out how by downloading our e-book: The 4 Essential Habits of Effective Managers.

 

Is It Time To Get The Employees You Deserve?
Yellow Coaching will help
Yellow Coaching assists established businesses and organisations of every size to improve their team culture, business efficiency, effectiveness, and profitability.

We do this through business coaching, executive mentoring, team training, and workshops for owners and staff at all levels within organisations.

We’ve helped hundreds of businesses improve their profitability, provide outstanding customer service, and get happier and more productive employees.

Want to take your business from good to great? Get in touch to see if you’re eligible for a free 90 minute consultation. We look forward to hearing from you.

Andrew Masi & Julianne Schwenke

Two Business Secrets You Need To Know

(one your competitors won’t tell you, and one everyone should be told!)

Do you sometimes feel that your competitors have a secret that’s allowing their business to do better than yours?

Do you look at other businesses and think they are smooth sailing, while yours is weathering rough seas?

If you’re like most business owners, at some stage you’ll be comparing yourself to your competitors and wondering what their secret is to getting ahead.

There are many secrets in today’s competitive world, and keeping your important information confidential is essential.

Details about your finances, marketing, and team concerns should be shared only with trusted professionals – such as your business coach, accountant and banker.

While privacy is important, this secrecy among business owners can lead to misconceptions. No-one wants their competition to know they have challenges, so you’ll usually hear business owners say “we’re flat out!” and keep up the facade that business is always great.

Without knowing what other businesses go through, you may think you are the only one struggling with team issues, tight cashflow, customer complaints, or a lack of leads.

You may fall for the psychological trap of ‘comparing and despairing’. Just like on social media, where it’s easy to contrast your own behind-the-scenes with others’ highlight reels, you can start to believe that everyone else’s business is doing better than yours.

As business coaches, we are in the privileged position of seeing the truth behind the outward image. We don’t work with broken businesses, but rather those that want to go from good to great. No matter how successful a business is, one thing is constant – challenges, frustrations, and worries are a part of every business.

As Brian Tracy says, problems are like waves on the ocean which just keep coming (with the inevitable dumpers mixed in) … problem, problem, problem, problem, CRISIS!

subway

So are you ready for the two secrets?

The secret other business owners don’t want you to know:

They all face challenges.

The secret everyone in business should be told:

Challenges are inevitable. To get ahead you need to tackle them early while they are still small, by growing your own ability to overcome them.

It’s not the business without challenges that comes out in front, but the business which overcomes its challenges the fastest.

So if business challenges are inevitable, how do you ensure that you deal with them effectively?

When faced with challenges in life and in business, you have three options.

  1. Turn around and run as fast as you can in the other direction

It may sound comical, but this is a common response to challenges. Some think that if they flee in the other direction, they can outrun any problem. Ever known someone to change their situation but end up facing similar problems down the track? Even when you run, some problems follow you wherever you go. As you haven’t learned to deal with them, you’ll be in the same position next time they appear.

  1. Stand still, ignore them, and hope they go away

Just like running away, this choice does nothing to defeat your challenges or grow your own ability to deal with them. In fact, ignoring your problems and hoping they go away often makes them grow larger. It’s almost as though they increase in size to demand your attention!

  1. Face them and tackle them head on

This is always the choice made by the most successful business leaders we know. When you choose to confront your challenges, you are forced to grow to overcome them. When you do this, instead of your problems growing, YOU grow. Next time you face a similar situation you’ll overcome it easily, and be ready to jump the next hurdle that appears.

Let’s see how choosing to ignore or face your challenges can result in very different outcomes.

Hoping it goes away …

A business owner meets with us to discuss his challenges. He started his business nearly three years ago, and it has now grown to a team of 7. His staff turnover has been high, and customer satisfaction is low.

He tells us that his staff members are the problem. After initial training, they stop following procedures and start doing things their own way. Their inconsistent service results in customer complaints, and loss of profits due to inefficiencies and wastage. One or two employees started out okay – but they’ve lost their motivation and just don’t try anymore. His newest team member in particular, Tom, is dragging the rest of the team down.

He tells us that he doesn’t know how to deal with this problem, that he just wants them to shape up, and that he’s angry and frustrated. He is reacting rather than responding to situations, and is losing his cool often at home and at work.

His comments include:

  • My staff never do what I ask them to do
  • I have to tell them again and again how to do things and they still don’t get it right
  • I always have stay back at work to fix their mistakes
  • The team doesn’t like Tom, and I don’t want Tom to stay, but it’s easier than having to replace him. I don’t have time to train anyone else – it’s coming up to our busiest season
  • I earned more money and had fewer headaches when I was working on my own.

He complains that he can’t believe the bad luck he’s had with employees. “You just can’t get good staff these days”, he says.

We explain a few things to help him. As he’s not giving the team direction and guidelines for performance, they are setting their own bar. When poor performance is ignored, it’s condoned. He needs to give Tom feedback and an opportunity to improve, or standards throughout the team will slide. We suggest that he learns some new communication and management skills and ways of dealing with business challenges.

Unfortunately he decides that he is too busy to make changes right now. Besides, he tells us, it’s the staff that’s the problem, not him!

Three months later we heard from him that Tom’s performance had deteriorated even further, and other team members got more and more frustrated at having to pick up Tom’s slack. They started leaving one by one. As the business became under-staffed, standards slipped further, and the business lost more customers and profits. The owner had since recruited a new team member, but he wasn’t happy with that person’s performance either.

By ignoring the problems, the problems had grown, but the business owner’s ability to deal with challenges hadn’t. As he was finding out, ignoring problems and hoping they go away doesn’t work.

Tackling it head-on …

In our second scenario, let’s imagine the same business owner comes to see us to discuss his challenges. Just like before, he tells us that he doesn’t know how to manage his staff. They are not following procedures, are losing motivation, and it’s impacting business results. In particular his newest employee Tom needs a lot of direction.

His outlook this time is one of finding a solution, rather than focusing on the problem. He tells us he doesn’t want his frustration to impact his enjoyment of work, the service he can provide his customers, his business profits, or his home life.

His comments include:

  • I need to learn how to communicate more effectively with my team so they do what I ask
  • I want to learn how to hold my employees accountable
  • I want advice on how to improve their skills and behaviour
  • I want a strong team throughout our busiest season
  • I want to grow my business and team, so the team can work without me there every day.

The business owner has clear goals for his business, and doesn’t have time for distractions. He knows he needs to deal with this problem before it grows.

He decides to learn some new management skills, knowing that to get a different result he needs to change his own actions. As he puts into practice what he’s learned, team morale improves. The team creates a company culture or ‘rules of the game’. The standards rise, and he finds the team members holding each other accountable to perform to their best.

He gives Tom feedback, support, and extra training, but unfortunately Tom’s performance doesn’t change. After receiving a written warning, Tom chooses to resign. The other employees are relieved that they no longer have to take up Tom’s slack.

This business owner has a new problem – he now has to replace Tom as they enter their busiest season. But now he has skills and experience in dealing with underperforming employees, and can focus on a solution and move forward. The team help recruit a new employee in line with their new company culture.

Instead of the problem growing, the owner’s skills, ability, and confidence to deal with team issues has grown.

Three months later this business has employed another two team members, and is looking forward to a year of record growth.

As this business owner found out, business is a journey of constant and never-ending improvement, and problems are often the push we need to grow.

Challenges are inevitable in business and in life. To be successful, we need to focus on what we can control, which is the way we deal with them. Having a solutions-focused approach and choosing to grow – rather than allowing our problems to grow –  is the secret.

The 3 Reasons Your Staff Don’t Do What You Ask (and what to do about it)

Do you find that your staff sometimes (or perhaps often) don’t do what you’ve asked them to do?

Does it seem like no matter how many times you’ve asked, things still aren’t being done?

Are you feeling frustrated and not sure what to do?

It’s a lament we hear often from frustrated business owners, executives, managers and supervisors. “But I’ve told them a thousand times already!” is something you’ve probably said more times than you care to remember.

The good news is that we have a solution. The first step is to understand the reason for their inaction.

We find that there are 3 basic reasons your staff don’t do what you ask:

  1. They don’t know how
  2. They don’t know why it’s important
  3. They just don’t want to!

leadership, communicationLet’s look at an example to illustrate.

Business owner Maria is frustrated that her new tradesman Jack is not filling out his timesheets.

Maria has shown Jack twice how to complete his timesheet online using their payroll software, and asked him to submit it for processing by 5pm each Wednesday. But after two weeks it’s still not getting done correctly or on time. The bookkeeper has had to call Jack each week to request it, and query Jack on his entries. Maria is starting to wonder whether Jack is the right tradesperson for the job.

There are three possibilities for Maria to consider before taking further action:

Possibility 1. Jack doesn’t know how to do it

The first thing Maria should consider is that Jack may not know how to fill out his time sheets correctly, or that he’s forgotten or misunderstood when they are due. Yes, Maria has shown Jack twice how to use the software, but just because Maria has communicated something to Jack doesn’t mean that Jack has fully understood. Jack may have been embarrassed to admit that he didn’t understand Maria, or may have forgotten some of the steps. After having it explained twice already, it was harder to admit it wasn’t making sense.

To see if this is the case, Maria could ask Jack something along the lines of: “Max, I hear from the bookkeeper that your time sheets haven’t been completed correctly the last two weeks, and haven’t been submitted on time. How are you finding the timesheeting process? Is there anything that you’d like me to go over with you? I’m happy to give you as much training as required to help you feel confident with the system.”

In this instance Jack admitted that he was having trouble, and Maria trained Jack once again. When finished, Maria asked Jack to fill out an example time sheet, and to repeat to her what time it needed to be submitted. Maria ended the training session by once again asking Jack if he had any questions, and he assured her that he didn’t.

Unfortunately despite this the following week Jack’s timesheet was incomplete and not submitted at the agreed time. The bookkeeper was also getting extremely frustrated with the situation, as chasing the information created extra work for him.

It’s now time for Maria to consider possibility #2:

Possibility #2: Jack doesn’t know why it’s important

People often aren’t aware of how their behaviour affects others. Maria calls Jack into a meeting with the bookkeeper, so he can explain how his inattention to detail and  his not meeting deadlines affects the bookkeeper, other staff, and the payroll system. Jack apologises and assures both the bookkeeper and Maria that the next week he’ll be accurate and on time.

Now Maria has communicated what is expected of Jack, and got him to repeat back to her what he understood, and why it’s important. Unfortunately the next week Jack’s timesheet is not submitted on time, and is once again full of errors.

Maria can only assume:

Possiblity #3: That Jack just doesn’t want to do it.

Maria sets up a meeting with Jack, at which she says: “Jack, you’ve been working here 3 weeks now. Three times we have sat down and done training on how to submit time sheets accurately. We also discussed the importance of submitting them by the company deadline, and you know how not submitting them correctly and on time affects the workflow of others. Despite this, for the third week in a row you have not done what you’ve been asked. Can you please tell me about that?”

This open-ended question allows Jack to explain anything that might be going on for him. He may make excuses, or he may apologise. Whatever the response, it’s an opportunity for Maria to ask Jack what he’ll do to rectify the situation, and explain the consequences if his behaviour doesn’t change. She could say: “Jack, you’ve told me you understand how to do this task, and that you understand how important it is. If it’s not done correctly next week, I will have no option but to give you a written warning.”

And of course it’s essential from that point on that Maria does issue a written warning if Jack’s behaviour doesn’t change.

If there’s something your staff are not doing despite your repeated requests, we suggest you follow the process above. Depending on the seriousness of the behaviour, you may enforce consequences sooner.

To improve workplace communication we suggest that from the outset every training always includes:

  • An explanation of what is required
  • An explanation of why it’s important, and
  • The opportunity for the employee to repeat back and confirm what is required and why.

We hope this helps you understand and deal with frustrating situations in your business.

We receive many phone calls from business leaders frustrated with their team’s performance, culture, and motivation. If you’d like to find more ways to deal with yours, call Andrew Masi or Julianne Schwenke on (02) 4933 6622. We’ll arrange a time for a complimentary chat with you to see how we can help.