June 7, 2015
To be successful, a business owner needs to keep their eyes on many different spinning plates. Marketing, budgeting, and customer service are just a few of the very important facets that successful companies monitor in order to build on and expand their success.
Much attention is paid to talent retention, and attracting the right types of employees. Less often we discuss the kinds of employees that can destroy the business that you're working so hard to build. Some negative business traits are obvious: an employee who steals, lies, or cheats to get ahead is obviously not going to be an asset to a company. But there are other types of employees that can be just as detrimental, although the difficulties they cause may not be obvious right away.
“I'm just here for my paycheck”
Some people find passion and fulfillment in their career; others have a philosophy of working hard during the week so that they can play harder when the work day is done. Both of methods can be perfectly fine, and still result in employees who work hard and demonstrate loyalty towards their employer.
The damage is done when an employee approaches their job duties with the idea of doing the bare minimum necessary in order to stay employed. Too often, employers shrug off these employees as lazy, and feel like there's nothing they can do, since the person isn't violating any rules.
Over the long term, however, these employees can be damaging to company morale, and can discourage new employees from doing their best. This can also create a culture of bare minimum effort that can, over time, make it impossible for a business to succeed. Even worse, these employees are often in customer-facing positions. Ultimately, there is no product sold that is so original that a customer can't get it somewhere else; if your customer service or sales staff gets by doing the bare minimum, you will lose customers.
What do you do about it? Look for ways to motivate employees with benefits and loyalty programs. Different employees have different currencies, so to speak; start with the person you're having the hardest time reaching, and understand how to motivate them specifically. By capturing their buy-in, you'll be in an excellent position to drive understanding.
I'm going to play Devil's Advocate for a minute
Having a meeting with a bunch of yes-men doesn't help anyone. If there isn't going to be meaningful conversation and discussion, many management experts say that the best possible option is to skip the meeting and send out an email.
But everyone has been in a meeting with the kind of employee who, no matter what is being presented, has something negative to say. They don't offer the kind of meaningful suggestions and solutions that can make a difference, but simply declare that the idea won't work, will be too expensive, or question the necessity of the work in the first place.
Too often, these employees fly under the radar on the notion that everyone's opinion should be heard, or that a culture of open ideas means that you can't shut down negativity. Over time, these naysayers actually end up shutting down creativity, because other employees don't want to express their ideas and handle the kind of criticism that this person brings to the table. To succeed at creative development, businesses need to ask questions like what if and why not. If they are automatically defending their ideas from a constantly negative employee, they will toss out otherwise excellent ideas.
It may not be possible to fully change an employee's attitudes in this area, but the best chances of success come from engaging with them about what kind of satisfaction they have with their job, helping to create more satisfaction at work, and modeling appropriate responses to creative meetings.
I'm having problems at home
It's important for employers to understand the environment in which their business is located, and realize that employees come to work with all manner of experiences and situations in their non-work lives. The best employers understand that people have bad days and upsetting non-work moments, and let their employees have the space necessary to vent the emotions that come along with that.
The problem becomes situations where employees' home lives consistently interrupt their work, to the point that the entire business's performance is undermined. While employers should be understanding, it's also unfair to other employees to constantly allow an employee to get away with inappropriate behavior due to their reported home situation.
Of all employee problems, this one might be the most difficult to resolve. Employers can direct employees towards EAPs and local resources, offer an understanding ear, but ultimately, have a business to run, and must be responsible for the business.
Not all employees can be model employees, and in fact, many HR experts would say that if you're convinced that all of your employees are perfect, you might be setting your standards too low. But at the same time, it's important not to allow employees on the lower end of the performance scale to drag down the overall team's situation.
What kind of employee was most difficult for you to manage in your business? Tell us in the comments.
Image Credit: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
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