Ever had a staff who’s consistently getting on your nerves? You just sent out a memo and yet here he is again borderline violating that very memo? Have you ever thought that this guy is here to just make your life difficult? Well, you are not alone. Most of the leaders and bosses have had their fair share of this kind of employee.

They’re irritating and annoying. You never know whether they have loose nuts or they’re doing it on purpose. Don’t you just wish you slap the heck out of them just to make your point?

One of my staff, Bob is notorious for his tardiness and absences. He would come in 1 hour late 2 to 3 times in a week. Some days he just won’t come in at all without notifying his supervisor, Joyce.

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I spoke with Joyce and asked her what’s happening with Bob. Joyce said that most of his reasons are oversleeping or alarm not going off. Joyce had given Bob warnings and coached him and as much as she wants to sack Bob, she didn’t want to because Bob is one of her top performers in her team.

I asked Joyce to give me Bob’s performance review for the last 3 months and if he comes in late again, send him straight to my office. 

Sure enough, Bob came in late and was sent to my office. I excused myself and went outside for a couple of minutes and came back with a termination paper. I sacked Bob.

Bob was being a subject of favoritism and he knows it. He knew that Joyce would let it slide as long as he makes up for what he does by performing. Joyce made Bob a liability. Joyce may not notice it but if we let Bob continue, the rest of the team will start thinking to do the same and she has no choice but just give them a slap on the wrist because she made precedence with Bob already.

Joyce needed to understand that an employee like Bob creates a negative effect not just between them but everyone around them. A “Bob” situation results to animosity between the team and the supervisor. They will start thinking that Joyce favors Bob because of him being a top performer of the team.

At some point, you will have to deal with your own Bob. Sometimes, worse. It’s one of the difficult tasks of being a manager but it is part of it.

Read below on how you can deal with your own “Bob”:

Act Now

The employee is doing it under your watch. The problem won’t go away until you act on it. Start identifying the problem and come up with your own root cause.

Private Meeting

On the next offense, schedule a meeting with him and ask for a human resource representative. This will give him an idea that what he’s doing is getting noticed already.

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Let Him Talk

Before asking your questions, let him talk and see if he has an idea why there’s a meeting. Chances are he knows why and if he owns up to it, it makes the meeting easier.

Glass Half-Full

Always think positive. There may well be a good reason why Bob is being Bob. By avoiding the negative, it helps you conserve your emotional energy by not contemplating shoulda, woulda, coulda.

Ask Open-Ended Questions

If for some reason, he has no idea why the meeting, ask open-ended questions like “I noticed you’ve been coming in late for the past few days. Can you tell us what’s going on?”

Be A Coach

Some managers depend on the punishment on the reason of the employee. If it’s valid, just coach him and suggest what he can do so such meetings would not happen.

Lay Down The Cards

Prior to the meeting, ensure that you have brought your substantial reason that merited the meeting. Get the dates, time and the exact offense.

Performance Improvement Plan

If your company doesn’t have one, design a performance improvement plan (PIP) which the sole purpose of it is to help out a struggling employee. Of course, if they’re smart enough, being put in a PIP is never a good sign.

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Choice Of Words

In some cases, we become close to our staff. Ensure to use words that would send the message that you are speaking to him as his boss, not his friend.

Keep An Open Mind

Regardless whether you’re mad and doesn’t care anymore, you have to keep an open mind.

Document Everything

For every offense, prepare a document stating the same and let him sign. For coaching, we used to have a coaching log that we would both write what our action plan is and schedule the next meeting and see if the goals were accomplished. 

We have a saying in our company, “If it’s not documented, it never happened.”

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Treat Everyone The Same

It does happen that you tend to favor one or two of your employees because you’re impressed with their performance or they suck up to you (oh, yes). However, you have to treat everyone the same. When two employees had committed the same offense, you can’t hand out a warning to someone and not on the other just because. Work is work.

Set A Target and Consequences Thereof

Say you already coached your Bob and both of you agreed on a reasonable target, inform Bob (have it documented) of the consequences if he failed to reach his target. A final warning or he will be let go. If he did fail, follow up on the agreement and that will send a message across. Even though that discussion is between you and him, believe me, the whole team will know.

Do Not Talk To Others About it

No matter what, be professional. Do not discuss with your subordinates how bad Bob is doing. You’re a manager, act like it. A good manager does not gossip.

Call For Reinforcement

If you’re a supervisor, ask your manager for help. If no one is available, ask your human resource department. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. You’re unsure of what to do, you’re doing what a good leader would do and that is asking for help when needed.

If All Else Fails….

When you’re sure you’ve done everything you can and still Bob is being Bob, let him go. Fire him before it gets contagious.

Be sure to check with human resource department before you do this. In most cases, they have a process when terminating an employee. Let them know your plan and they will help you along with it.

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Be ready with a lot of disapproval and back-talks, it’s natural. I had cases in which I was asked to give him proof of his attendance and performance record. Remember documentation? This is the part it becomes handy.

Having a difficult staff is never nice but there’s almost always one in every company. How you deal with him/her would make you a better leader. As soon as you see one, look at it as a challenge. Think of it as your personal mission to help him/her improve and get back on track by following the tips above.

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