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Five employee situations that will test your patience

Every day can be different when managing a mix of personalities at work, that’s part of the fun. But with the good days can come some bad, and there will be times when your people management patience is tested to the max. Whilst a robust recruitment programme, quality training and clear behavioural policies will help, there can still be times when human emotions or life in general throws employees off course.

From staff turning up tired, to not turning up at all, causing a ruckus or upsetting co-workers, you can be faced with various challenges throughout the working week. But before you jump to dismissals left, right and centre, be warned that impulsive marching orders can not only leave you short staffed but also put your business at risk of a damaging WRC (workplace relations commission) claim.

To help you and your managers know what to do in the heat of the moment, we have identified five difficult yet common scenarios with employees. Read on to find out how best to manage them and remember, we are on call to assist.

When they turn up tired

This employee will turn up for work. But when they arrive, they are not exactly ready to work and certainly don’t look presentable. They appear to have been woken from a deep sleep and have not quite recovered. Or they could have been awake for hours and are powering through, sleepwalking back and forth to the coffee machine and mumbling. They will make it through the day, but with minimal effort, focus and concentration, wasting both your time and theirs.

There’s work to be done so you need to find out what’s going on with this employee. If it’s a one-off bad night’s sleep, this can happen. But you should try to find out if something more serious is going on and if you can help. However, if the problem is self-inflicted, let them know that this behaviour is unacceptable and consult us for backup.

When they’re playing pranks

This employee is the one that cracks jokes at the expense of others, goes for a cheap laugh by playing pranks and wears a wry smile that suggests they’re up to no good. They are more problematic than they first seem, because they encourage others to follow suit and can make a laughingstock of management. They’re usually highly skilled, that’s one of the reasons you hired them. But boredom fuels their need for disruption and your workforce is their very own captive audience.

This is no laughing matter and challenging to say the least. But we like a challenge and believe that with good management this sort of energy can be channelled in the right way. Training your senior staff to deal with unruly behaviour and to hold difficult conversations can keep business as usual and help you to get the most out of employees.

When temper flairs up

Tread carefully with this one. Something doesn’t go their way and they can quickly become unreasonable and even vicious. Unable to control their emotions, this employee will let anger get the better of them and they can lose all sense of rationale. Shouting, slamming objects and making threats are the warning signs of an outburst.

Make no mistake, temper tantrums do not belong in your business. This sort of behaviour is looming towards a disciplinary or gross misconduct and needs to be addressed asap. Get them into a private room to protect other employees from the scene. Coherent conversations are not easy when emotions are running high, so try to get them to calm down before getting to the bottom of what just happened. If you can’t reach a resolution, send them home and arrange a formal meeting at the next available opportunity.

When they’re taking the credit

Charming their way through the working day, this employee knows how to make an impression.

They’re usually keen to show off and boast about their hard work with magnificent results. But behind the smoke and mirrors lies a very different story. Their triumph has come as a result of a less vocal, hard-working colleague. The dominant character has come up trumps whilst your hard worker is not getting the recognition they deserve.

This charade won’t last for long and can unravel in a worrying way. To avoid being won over by illusions, implement a robust review process to monitor employee performance. Conduct regular 121s and be sure to consider all work involved in addition to results achieved. If it transpires an employee has been taking the credit for someone else’s work, an investigation with possible disciplinary hearing is required.

When attendance slips

There one day, gone the next. They somehow accept meeting invitations yet fail to show when you need them the most. Customers ask for them, so you know they’ve been sighted at some point. But their presence is so unpredictable you’re beginning to wonder if they even work for you anymore.

This is a difficult situation, but we have a few tricks up our sleeves to help. Firstly, make sure you record any absences. Secondly, call them into a meeting the next time you see them to investigate their poor attendance. If they are absent without leave, call them each day and as a last resort, send a letter to their home address to let them know their job is at risk.

Unlimited telephone and email HR advice

Whenever you come across a troublesome character amongst your staff, there is only one number you need to call. Our Advice Line service provides unlimited telephone and email HR support. So get in touch when trouble arises.