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How To Deal With A Problem Employee

 “No one would change unless he finds a need for it.” These are the wise words of the Greek philosopher Socrates. Put briefly, values determine behavior. Problematic Employee, hereinafter referred to as PE, behaves the way he does because of the values he holds on to. And he will not change unless he sees a need for it. This means that you will have to tweak his set of values, but first you must understand them so that you can motivate PE to follow company policies and procedures and be likeable to your clients.

The “Butterfly Effect,” used in Chaos Theory, explains that a change in an Initial State would alter other states (behaviors) in the new Subsequent State. Ideally, you could provide an intervention that would make PE align with your desired set of behaviors while still maintaining those behaviors that you appreciate, such as his being an energetic and efficient multitasker and, more importantly, his ability to close sales.

There will always be mavericks (people who behave against the accepted flow) in any organization. These mavericks live in a world of their own design, oblivious to the conditions and requirements around them. Fortunately, your own maverick, aka the Problem Employee, delivers the goods for you.

So why does PE behave in a manner which offends your company’s clients? What are the values of PE which makes such outcomes (i.e., offending clients) pleasurable? Shockingly, PE may not actually be aware of this and may even be alarmed and repentant if this is brought to his attention.

Your action plan should consider that he is a new employee and may not have had ample time to absorb and appreciate your company’s set policies and procedures. Have an informal chat with him, perhaps over coffee outside the office. Do this when you sense he is not stressed and may be open to hear things that would run counter to his set of beliefs.

Then use the “Movie Approach” to put PE into a third-party position. Ask him to view a selling situation as if he were watching a movie. The salesperson in the movie scene behaves in a way similar to PE’s behavior—and the client responds in a manner which obviously communicates that he is offended. Then ask PE’s opinion about the scene. What are his thoughts about the salesperson’s behavior and the client’s reaction?

Remember, your objective during this coffee chat is not to change PE’s behavior but for him to simply understand his thought process.

This article originally appeared in Working Mom. Changes have been made for Metro.Style.