Dealing with labor disputes and labor relation issues have in the past recent become a sensitive issue especially because of the legal implications such disputes may attract if not handled well. Organizations as well as supervisors are finding themselves on tight spots regarding different employee relation issues and some lead to costly legal cases. Before attempting to solve any dispute in an organization, the supervisor or the management should first differentiate between problem employees and employees who have a problem.
In most instances, managers confuse employees with problems with problem employees thus leading to erroneous application of problem solving techniques. An employee problem arises where the problem of the employee is persistent, job performance of an employee is affected and if a particular pattern have been developed by the employee. Without these three prerequisites, then an employee is not a problem but rather have a problem (Bowers, 2003).
To ensure that the solution to an employee problem is eradicated rather than fueled, a supervisor should ensure that the employee fully understands his or her problem and its effects on his task performance. He should also be well endowed with the necessary legal advice to ensure that any disciplinary action does not amount to illegality in the side of the organization.
Problem employees’ increases an organizations risk of facing legal problems since disciplinary action against such an employee may be termed as discriminatory while ignoring their behavior may make other employees to file law suits for not taking any action against problem employees. This is the cases especially where other employees are being harassed by problem employees. This however should not hinder an organization from taking necessary disciplinary measures to a problem employee (DelPo & Guerin, 2007).
This research paper will evaluate the different techniques of dealing with a problem employee so as to mitigate legal problems which may arise due to any disciplinary measures taken by a supervisor or the organization. Problem solving model While dealing with employees’ problem or problem employees, it is vital for a manager to avoid what is referred to as managerial cynicism. The employer or manager should realize that employee problems are inevitable and that they are bound to happen from time to time.
A manager should also aim at dealing with problems in a supportive manner to ensure a positive attitude in employees is maintained. The problem solving process should also aim at improving the self esteem of employees which can be done through concentrating on their strengths rather than their problems. A manager should refrain from branding his or her employees as being problematic or uncooperative as this may lead to the escalation of the problem rather than solving it (Bowers, 2003). Traditionally, employees who were regarded as being problematic used to be punished, threatened or even terminated from their employment.
At times, employee problem was attributed to lack of training especially where job performance was affected. For effective elimination of problems in an organization, it is essential for a manager to get to know the root cause of the problem before commencing on the problem solving process. Addressing the symptoms or outcomes of a problem only temporarily solves the problem which the real cause continues to expand thus creating bigger problems in the future (Bruce, 1990). While dealing with problem employees, it is vital to employ a creative problem solving technique so as to influence the employees positively.
Creative problem solving model is composed of different processes which includes objective finding process, fact finding process, problem finding process, idea generation or finding process, solution finding process and finally the acceptance finding process. The first step involved while solving problems is known as the objective finding process. Under this process, a supervisor or a manager should first identify the problem he or she is faced with before attempting to solve it. He should have a clear objective in regard to the challenges facing him regarding the problem employee(s).
While dealing with a problem employee, it is crucial to first understand the challenges involved in the problem solving problem before committing to the process. A supervisor should not be quick to judge his or her employees once a problem is noted or reported (CoachVille, 2001). The second step in the problem solving model is the fact finding process. During this stage of problem solving, the supervisor should seek to exonerate all the fact regarding the problem. The root cause or the background of the problem should be identified and concrete facts obtained.
All the feelings involved in the problem need to be analyzed and all the questions asked to ensure that all the facts are obtained. This are important while solving the problem and while imposing disciplinary action against a problem employee. Finding the fact is also essential since it helps an organization reduce the risks of legal suits which may result in high penalties in terms of punitive damages. Facts also help a supervisor to differentiate between a problem employee and employees with problems. All the fact need to be recorded down for reference purposes.
After all the facts have been obtained, problem finding is the next step. In this step, a manager or a supervisor should focus on the real problem rather on the person or the problem employee. Problem solving process fails when the supervisor changes his attention from the real problem to the person. Attacking the person only worsens the problem and increases resistance, reduces morale and job satisfaction thus affecting further the overall job performance of an individual. Focusing on the real problem is imperative for a successful problem solving process.
The supervisor should make sure that the problem employee fully understands the problem, its implication to his or her performance. An open dialogue should be encouraged rather than condemning the problem employee (Myers, 1985). The fourth stage in the problem solving process is the idea generation or finding process. After the problem is identified and analyzed, the supervisor together with the problem employee should collaboratively come up with alternative ideas on how to solve the prevailing problem. The supervisor need to state all the solutions at his or her disposal based on the policies of the organization.
The employee need also to state what he or she thinks can be done to solve the problem at hand. Jointly formulating the ideas for problem solving enhances commitment to the problem solving process and creates accountability in the part of the employee. This also reduces possibilities of legal suits on basis of discrimination or retaliation by a problem employee. During this process, different solutions are proposed and noted down. The next stage involves solution finding process whereby the supervisor and the problem employee and any other stakeholder to the problem solving problem comes up with the best solution to solve the problem.
The best alternative is chosen and a compromise is reached. However, during the solution finding process, the supervisor though he or she engages the problem employee, he should not let the employee dictate the solution to be undertaken. The overall solution should be focused on the larger organizational goals and objectives as well as the improvement of the problem employee’s performance. Solutions should be aimed at eliminating the root causes of the problem rather than solving the outcomes of the underlying causes. Usually, problem employee stem from job dissatisfaction and other work related issues.
Ensuring job satisfaction rather than condemning absenteeism for example is the key issue of solving an absenteeism problem (ProblemEmployee. net, n. d). The last stage in problem solving process is the acceptance of the whole process of problem solving. This involves taking necessary steps to implement the agreement reached in step five above. The problem solving process may not be termed as successful if it does not meet its overall goal of eliminating the problem and encouraging the problem employee to be more committed to his work as well as the organization.
A supervisor should carry out his end of the bargain and the employee should also fulfill his agreement. The performance of the problem employee is then evaluated after the implementation of the solution. Lack of improvement may call for stern measures which can include termination of employment. However, before such a decision is taken, a supervisor should try to help the problem employee to reform. However, some cases may call for outright termination especially in cases where a problem employee poses a major threat to the welfare of other employees.
The disciplining process takes on a progressive approach. For the first time an employee becomes problematic, a warning is issued and no stern measures are taken especially in cases which do not harm other workers task performance or welfare. If the problem employee does not correct his or her behavior, the supervisor seeks in-depth audience with the problem employee where the above process is employed. Failure to comply with the agreement may lead to ultimate dismissal of the employee especially where an organization realizes that such an employee may never change.
Dismissal is always the last option employers have on problem employees (Beach, 2007). Different employers have come up with different solutions to problem employees with termination being a less desired option especially due to the cost associated with it. On of the schemes which is being used by employers and which has been effective in solving the problem of problem employees is the performance pay approach. Under this approach, an employee is paid based on the amount of work he or she does. As mentioned earlier, problem employees tend to perform poorly at work thus raising a lot of concern with the management.
To boost their performance, a supervisor or an organization may adopt a performance payment criterion thus motivating employees to work harder. Job dissatisfaction is one cause of problem employee but which can be effectively eradicated by implementation of performance payment contracts. Employees are motivated to work harder so as to earn the extra money. Pay for performance approach is being employed by different organizations today and has been an effective tool of reducing problem employees. Initially, remuneration and supervision issues have been a major cause of problem employees.
With pay for performance approach, workers are allowed to take charge of these two elements and also to improve on the quality of work since this also matters during the payment process. Use of reward and incentive is also another means of improving employees’ performance in an organization. Rewards stimulate motivation and morale and also reduce resistance at work place as all employees work towards getting the extra pay. Use of reward system also connects the employees to the overall goals of the business which is vital in soliciting commitment and dedication.
Schemes like the profit sharing incentives are also good solutions of problem solving in an organization (Bowers, 2003). Another solution which is at the exposure of the employers is termination. This can be a costly solution especially because it can lead to legal implications. To reduce the risk of legal suits, the above outlined process of problem solving should be adopted and termination should be employed where other means of disciplinary measure fail. During termination, a worker is compensated for the loss of job which can be costly for an organization.
However, this exercise is less costly than retaining a problem employee who adds cost to the business. This approach is taken when it is clear that a problem employee has no intention of changing his behavior or where despite all the efforts of a company, the performance of an employee does not change. Retaining such an employee leads to additional costs to an organization and as such terminating him is the only viable option (ProblemEmployee. net, n. d). Training is also another solution of to elimination of problem employees in an entity. Employees may become problematic if they do not have the necessary skills to carry out their tasks.
During the problem solving process, needs for training may be identified and offering training facilities for such problem employees would help in solving the problem. Employees may also become problematic due to the way they are handled by their supervisors or the way supervisors handle grievances in an organization or department. Training should be two-way that is for the employees as well as for the supervisors. Supervisors need to be trained on how to handle and motivate employees while employees require training on job performance techniques. Motivation is the key to reducing the number of problem employees in an entity (Bowers, 2003).
Measuring the success of the problem solving process is vital for an organization and it can be carried out using various methods. One the measuring technique is the periodic performance based approach. Keeping employees updated on their progress and rewarding them at shorter intervals motivates them to work more efficiently. Periodic rewards enhance performance as workers are encouraged to perform better so as to earn higher returns. While using annual reward systems, employees tend to lose focus of the rewards or bonuses and motivation decreases which may make them to be problematic.
Short term performance based rewards and bonuses are a sure way of measuring the progress and success of the problem solving process (Beach, 2007). Another way of measuring the success of the implementation process is by observing the behavior of the employees. Enthusiastic employees about the implementation process translates to successful implementation while the vice versa is true. The behaviors of the employees go hand in hand with their task performance. Positive behavior should be encouraged while negative response or behavior should be corrected as soon as they are noted (Bruce, 1990).
Conclusion Problems in an organization are inevitable and the supervisors and managers should be well prepared to handle them appropriately and effectively. With the stern labor laws in operation around the world, employee problem handling have become a sensitive issue which requires skills during its handling as poor handling may result to costly legal implication raging from discrimination to retaliation claims. While dealing with employees problems, a supervisor should first ensure that he is handling the real issue that is a problem with the employee or a problematic employee.
To avoid legal implications, a supervisor should ensure that he employs the problem solving process while dealing with labor relation issues. The major issues attributed to problem employee are motivational related and as such to eliminate these issues, job satisfaction strategies should be put in place by an organization. Reference: Beach, L. R. (2007): The human element: understanding and managing employee behavior. ISBN 0765620367, M. E. Sharpe Bowers, T. (2003): Turning around a problem employee. Retrieved on 29th May 2009 from, http://articles. techrepublic. com. com/5100-10878_11-5035052. html. Bruce, W. M. (1990):
Problem employee management: proactive strategies for human resource managers. ISBN 0899305016, Quorum Books CoachVille (2001): The Top 10 Tips for Dealing with Employee Problem Behavior. Retrieved on 29th May 2009 from, http://topten. org/public/AE/AE29. html DelPo, A. & Guerin, L. (2007): Dealing with problem employees: a legal guide. ISBN 1413307116, Nolo Myers, D. W. (1985): Employee problem prevention and counseling: a guide for professionals. ISBN 0899300847, Quorum Books ProblemEmployee. net (n. d): Problem Employee: How to deal with a problem employee. Retrieved on 29th May 2009 from, http://www. problememployee. net/.