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December 2018
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TD Magazine

5 Practices to Help Problem Employees Clean Up Their Act

Do you have a problem employee on your team? Providing fact-based, judgment-free feedback can help you overcome the personal and business challenges such employees present—and help them improve their performance.

1. Be timely. Saving up all the problem behaviors you've observed and presenting them at once is likely to lead to resistance, not change. Deal with issues one by one, as they crop up.

2. Keep it short. Don't ramble, suggest excuses for the behavior, or talk for too long. Simply share the situation, behavior, and impact, then pause to give the employee an opportunity to respond.

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3. Show empathy. Problem employees are more likely to accept and use the feedback you share if they perceive that you genuinely care about their welfare and they don't worry that you are out to get them.

4. Don't use the "sandwich" technique. Don't tuck negative feedback between two pieces of positive feedback. Your problem employees may assume two out of three isn't bad and think they're doing just fine.

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5. Avoid being a fixer. If employees think you are trying to change who they are, their defenses will rise and feedback efforts will go to waste. Instead, simply help them become aware of behaviors that they need to stop, start, or continue.

Source: How to Deal with Problem Employees Effectively by Stephen Young and Jessica Glazer, Center for Creative Leadership

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