How to Better Manage Problem Team Members

Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone on your team were professional, respectful of others, dedicated to doing the best job possible and responsible with their time tracking? That’s probably asking too much, but there are ways you can deal with problem team members. There’s no reason that your entire team should suffer just because of one bad apple. What should you know?
Deal with Them, Now
Depending on the severity of the problem, you might be tempted to let things right. This is the wrong approach. You might think it’s part of adjusting to a new team environment, or perhaps that whatever the issue is, it will go away with time. The problem here is that by not dealing with the behavior immediately, you’re giving tacit approval – you’re telling them it’s fine to act that way, and that creates huge issues down the road. Whatever the problem is, deal with it now before it grows.
Speak in Private
One of the fastest ways to create a sense of resentment and anger in your team is to confront behavior or work issues in a public forum. No matter how “small” the issue might be, raising it in front of other people is never a good thing. Take the offending team member aside to a private location (while observing all the rules regarding open doors for propriety and safety), and discuss it with them there.
Use a Gentle Hand, at Least at First
The first time or two that you have to confront a team member about a problem attitude or behavior, use a gentle hand. That doesn’t mean you have to baby them, but you shouldn’t necessarily “lay into” them, either. The behavior might be nothing more than the result of confusion and misunderstanding on their part. By dealing with it in an amicable way, you are able to start sorting the issue out without immediately angering the team member or making them feel bad. In fact, the team member might just need a little instruction or training in how to behave or in the proper procedures to use.
Repeat Offenders
While the first offense or two should be handled delicately (or at least politely), repeated offenses are a different matter. If the team member continues with the problem behavior even after repeated warnings, it’s time to take things a bit farther. A stern warning and a reprimand of some sort (a verbal warning that goes on their employment record, etc.) will be necessary. You should also inform the team member that the next instance would result in something more drastic, and lay out the possible consequences (including being removed from the team).
While it’s hoped that you won’t have to deal with problem team members at all, there’s always the chance that one of your team will have issues. Whether it’s in behavior towards another team member, laxness in recording time, failure to document correctly or something else, handling the situation the right way from the start is essential.

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