Don't Ignore Problem Employees and Hope They Go Away

Last week, I looked out my office window and noticed all kinds of icicles hanging off the roof. One was particularly large, and grew even larger this week with the melting and re-freezing common in Minnesota in February. I nicknamed it, “The icicle of death.” I decided it probably wasn’t a good thing to have hanging off the roof, so with the help of my law partner, Marylee, we removed the window screen and knocked down the 6 foot behemoth.

 A problem employee can be a lot like that big icicle. He or she starts out causing small problems at work. The employer hopes it will get better and takes no steps to address the small problems. Eventually, the employee starts causing big problems that branch out and affect other employees at the business. When the employer decides they need to take some action, they may be limited because they have done nothing previously.

Employees should be put on notice when they are doing something inappropriate or against policy. If an employer turns a blind-eye to the small issues, eventually it grows to be a larger issue, requiring more time, expense, and trouble than if the problem was constructively addressed early.

“The icicle of death” would have eventually disappeared on its own in about 6 or 7 weeks with the coming of spring. In the mean time I have no idea what type of damage it could have caused to the roof and eaves. By dealing with the icicle now, I prevented future damage to my office suite. If businesses don’t address employee problems when they are small, damage is likely to result. Don’t ignore problem employees and hope they will disappear, address issues as they arise.


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