Glenna opened the session by defining a difficult employee as one who either does not do what you want them to do, or does what you do not want them to do - in other words, a difficult employee is someone who makes their own rules.
According to Glenna, difficult employees can be “divas, procrastinators, know-it-alls, victims, bullies, gossips, naysayers…They come in all shapes, sizes, genders, ages and styles.”
If you choose to ignore this situation you become a hostage in your own business, so the solution is to be proactive.
Every business needs a code of honor, which is really just the expected and acceptable behaviours in your workplace.
Without a clear code of honor, it can be hard for your employees to know what you want your business to stand for. Some examples include:
How do you start creating your business code of honor? Start with your employee’s job descriptions. If you have never had a formal job description for your staff, this is the crucial first step in outlining what it expected in terms of skills, experience, physical requirements, hours per week etc. It will also help with more intangible items that fall under expected behaviour.
One of the best ways to align employees to your code of honor is right at the interview process. Behavioural interviewing is used to identify skills, qualifications and alignment with your expected and acceptable behaviours. It is typically composed of three parts: a lead in, a shared experience, and a probe.
The lead in provides an idea of what the job will require. This should be about five words, e.g. “Sometimes a job is stressful”.
The next is a request for the employee to share an experience that was negative and how it affected their work environment.
The final part is the probe where you ask what the potential employee did to cope with this situation and improve it.
Here’s a sample question with all three sections together:
“We sometimes deal with tight timelines. Tell me about a time you had to deal with a lot of work and a deadline. What did you do to manage your time and make the experience a positive one?”
What you are looking for in the interviewee’s answer is actions that aligns with your code of honor. In the example above, if your code involves working as a team, taking responsibility and completing your tasks, then you are looking for an answer that hits those notes.
Overall you should be aiming for a total of five behavioural questions during the interview, three on the job and two on expected behaviour. Young interviewees without a lot of work experience can draw on school or extra curricular or even family experiences.
An interviewee who answers “I’ve never been in this type of situation” is probably a difficult employee who likely never realized their behaviour caused anyone else distress.