Shop Talk with Steve
One of the most difficult responsibilities of the shop superintendent is dealing with problem employees. This heavy burden comes in the knowing that the decisions you make with these people is life changing for them. You want to handle these situations in a manner which will create a positive outcome for all concerned so that everyone wins and productivity continues, and possibly increase. What can we do to help achieve this goal?

In the June issue the discussion was about managing your people for success by getting to know them better. Taking that a step further, watch for the changes in attitude with your people. If you notice a change, do not delay in finding out what the problem is and get involved right away in creating a solution. Allowing problems to fester fuels ill will among the group and slows down production.

Deal with confrontations head on and with a positive attitude. Continue the discussion and answer questions until they are satisfied. Make changes in assignments or work locations within the shop if necessary. Do what you can within the boundaries of your job to make corrections.

If the problem is with individual productivity, set work goals based on time or quantity for certain tasks. Have the employee agree on how much they can get done at an acceptable level for what is required, and get those goals in writing. Create consequences to be initiated if those goals are not met. This way, if they cannot meet their own goals they will see that they have no one else to blame for their lack of success.

Be sure and follow through with what you say you will do. If you do not, you will loose the respect of your employee and your crew. Problems not dealt with will multiply.
If you don't have a form, just use a single sheet of paper. At the top of the page put the name of the employee, and the date. Put the job title and a short description of the work to be done along with the time frame required and have the employee sign and date it. Keep this on file for reference.
Use a one page format
Dealing with Problem Employees
Use this same single page reporting format mentioned above to record any corrections to behavior or disciplinary actions.

Do not try to rely on memory, as the employee will not remember the incident, correction or conversation you had with them in the same way you do. If necessary, have a third party witness present.
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