At one time or another every boss encounters at least one: an employee who expresses a basic lack of respect for other people. This disrespect can take the form of a sarcastic or cynical attitude, or it can be a prejudice toward a group of people. In his book Perfect Solutions for Difficult Employee Situations, Sid Kemp says that in general, such attitudes have deeper psychological or social roots. While he admits it’s not an employer’s job to delve into such origins, he says you do have the responsibility of helping every team member participate in a healthy work environment. Here are six steps Kemp says you should follow when dealing with a disrespectful employee.
- Focus on specific behaviours, e.g., word choice, tone of voice and lack of responsiveness.
- Let the employee know how others react to those behaviours. Gently tell the team member, “This is what other people have said to me¦”
- Ask the employee, “Is that the response you want from them?”
- Usually, the answer will be “No.” Then you can say, “It’s your job to communicate effectively—to find a way to say what you mean and give the impression you want to give. Can I help you think that through?” If the team member agrees, move into a discussion of what the team member really wants to convey, with some role-playing to try things out and see what works.
- If the employee says “Yes” to the question in step 3, meaning he wants to push people away, ask him, “Why don’t you want to get along with the team?” or “What’s troubling you?” and follow the discussion wherever it leads.
- After the discussion, let other employees know that the disrespectful staff member is working on it and that they should give him another chance.