Sometimes managers recognize why they tolerate habitually impolite employees, and sometimes they don’t.
Here are four reasons managers put up with such behaviors:
1. “But he/she is one of my top performers.” Managers may fear productivity would drop and the worker would be difficult to replace. Perhaps the employee has a special technical skill or valuable institutional knowledge. None of these are good reasons to tolerate unprofessional behavior.
2. “It’s not worth the conflict.” Management, when executed correctly, involves plenty of face-to-face conflict. But if those interactions are handled correctly, both sides walk away feeling satisfied. Managers can always seek advice from HR before initially bringing up the issue to the employee.
3. “Maybe he/she will change.” Don’t count on it. Use HR as a partner to point out the employee’s errors and deliver the appropriate warnings.
4. “His/her skills are worth the headache.” Don’t look at this person’s poor behavior in a vacuum. While he or she may still be productive, it’s quite likely an employee’s obnoxious behavior is pulling down the morale and performance of co-workers. Don’t cling to the notion that any employee is too talented to be disciplined.
7 tips for supervising ‘difficult’ personalities:
1. Focus on what you want to happen, not on how you feel. The emotional response will kick in first, but the trick is not to act on it.
2. Be assertive. Don’t expect an employee to read your mind. Let him or her know when you’re annoyed, upset or disappointed.
3. Give and request frequent feedback. Don’t stew over what an employee may be thinking. Ask.
4. Model the type of behavior you want. Exhibit the kind of upbeat, forward-looking professionalism you expect from your staff.
5. Deal directly and discreetly. Choose face-to-face talks in private to discuss an employee’s attitude or behavior.
6. Always document. Keep a record of all communications to prevent lies or faulty recollections from taking over later.
7. Be gracious. Someone’s rudeness doesn’t give you the right to respond in kind.
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