Even if you have the best recruitment processes in the world, you could still end up with a disruptive employee.
Whether the said person simply isn’t hitting targets or struggles to get along with other employees, situations like these can cause a few sleepless nights.
Unfortunately, disruptive staff members often take up a lot of time and resource, which can prevent the wider business from achieving its goals.
That’s why it’s important to identify the issue and rectify it quickly.
If you do this, you’ll improve staff morale, give the disruptive member a new lease of life and free up some time so you can focus on other areas of the business.
To help you eradicate ineffectiveness and maximise productivity within your workplace, I’ve put together some of my top management tips on how to deal with disruptive employees.
When an employee is causing issues or being difficult, it’s easy to stop paying attention to them. In theory, shutting them out is the easiest way to get through the day and finish your own job.
However, doing this will only serve you in the short-term. Further down the line when your team isn’t hitting targets or are handing in their notices, you’ll suddenly appreciate the magnitude of the problem.
To stop the said employee from being disruptive, you have to find out what the problem is.
Call a meeting and have an informal chat about their life, thoughts and opinions.
Try to avoid making any reference to them underachieving, as this could make the situation worse.
Instead, focus on getting to know them.
With any luck, they will give you a clue via their answer or body language as to why they are being disruptive.
Whether that’s an issue at home, a lack of opportunities within the business or another reason.
It may be that your employee is in burnt out and in need of your support.
2. Be clear and to the point.
If talking to the disruptive employee on a casual basis doesn’t work, you might have to take a more direct approach.
Putting your foot down and giving them honest, behavioural feedback might give them the kick up the backside they need to pull their finger out again.
While this may be one of the most uncomfortable things you have to do as a manager, it’s a necessary requirement.
The key to doing this effectively is to give the disruptive employee constructive feedback on their behaviours instead of their mental state.
If you tell them that they ‘are’ something in an accusative way, the employee will instantly go on the defensive.
Alternatively, the best way to approach this is to make an observation.
Using language like “I noticed” and “I think”. Forming a sentence using these softer terms is a lot better than saying “you are” something.
By giving them honest feedback on what they are doing wrong, you should get an answer or at least spark a reaction when they return to their desk.
3. Stay professional.
This is an obvious one, but it is so important that it’s definitely worth a mention.
Bad mouthing disruptive employees behind their back will simply create a toxic environment and breed resentment within the team.
This could lead them to isolate the problematic one, giving that person no choice but to leave their job.
Saying things behind their back can also form a level of distrust among the team and make you look incapable of doing your job.
Stay professional and maintain a top working environment.
4. Document progress.
Keeping a record of an employee’s progress is vital for a number of reasons.
Firstly, it can help give disruptive employees a clear direction on how to improve.
And secondly, in more extreme cases, it also gives you a clear record to safeguard your business against unfair dismissal claims.
Recruiter Pro Tip
A good manager will avoid negativity and show a level of care. Try replacing language like ‘areas of improvement’ with more positive language like ‘future goals’. You can then turn their issues into a positive step towards the future.
For instance, if the disruptive employee doesn’t get along with a lot of the other team members, setting them the goal to arrange monthly social nights for the team can help in a number of ways.
As a result, the disruptive employee will now have to effectively communicate with the team to arrange this and even socialise outside of work hours.
The key here is to challenge them in a positive way. This could generate the response you need and bring them closer to the rest of the team.
5. Tell them the consequences.
Another management tip to deal with a disruptive employee is to clearly state the consequences.
Some people just respond better to this straightforward and honest approach.
There are some employees out there who will test a manager’s boundaries and require instruction.
Sit them down and tell them straight.
Start off with a positive like “I know you can turn this around” and follow it up with “you have until x date to do…”.
This will show the disruptive employee that you believe in them, as well as reiterating your position as their boss.
6. Follow the right processes.
At the end of the day, if the disruptive employee hasn’t made a significant improvement, it might be time to terminate their contract.
In such circumstances, it’s essential that you follow the company’s processes to ensure the employee is dismissed fairly.
Discuss the situation with your HR team to establish all of the pillars and terms to make sure the process runs smoothly.
As a starting point, you should refer to gov.uk’s article about dismissing employees here.
At the end of the day, you have to be strong in your mind-set and confident in the decisions that you make.
A good manager will tackle the issue immediately and have the courage to make executive decisions.
There are two elements to remember here. Firstly, always maintain a positive attitude.
Approaching a disruptive employee with a negative tone and series of criticisms won’t end well.
Show faith in that person, offer goals to strive for and balance the harsh consequences with a positive outlook.
Secondly, always remember to communicate. It’s easy to moan about an employee behind their back, but that won’t help your business progress in the long-term.
The fact of the matter is, your team are in this together and you have the power to make them click and achieve fantastic things.
If all else fails, that’s when you can start to look to remove the disruptive employee.
In this case, be strong and professional from start to finish.
For more guidance on how to face up to challenging behaviour, I highly recommend reading the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service’s (ACAS) guide: ‘Challenging conversations and how to manage them’.
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