As a manager, from time to time it’s likely that you’ll be faced with problem behaviour in your team which needs to be resolved.

Dealing with challenging behaviour can sometimes be a daunting prospect, as many managers feel that the process will be difficult, unpleasant or awkward.

These 5 Tips help to lay the foundations for tackling problem behaviour effectively, and gaining the respect of your team:

1. Use your judgement

The problem behaviour issues that you may experience can range from relatively minor things, such as poor timekeeping, to more serious performance problems, such as rudeness to colleagues or customers, shouting, anger management issues or bullying and harassment.

It’s likely that you’ll experience a range of behaviour problems and root causes, so use your judgement to tackle each issue and individual appropriately.

2. Don’t jump to conclusions

In some cases, there may be mitigating circumstances which explain the negative behaviour, e.g. illness, stress or other factors, both inside and outside the workplace.

It’s therefore important not to make assumptions about the reasons for problem employee behaviour, particularly if the negative behaviour seems completely out of character or comes ‘out of the blue’.

Talk to the employee informally and give them the chance to explain why they are behaving in this way.

3. Never confront in anger

Do not let this become an emotional situation. Do whatever you need to do to get your emotions in check before confronting; maybe walk around the block, count to ten or have a coffee.

Take however long you need to get your emotions together, but as soon as you’ve done that, confront the poor performing employee without delay.

4. Deal with it

Resist the temptation to put your head in the sand in the hope that the problem behaviour will disappear if you ignore it. It won’t! If left unchallenged, problem behaviour is likely to get worse. 

It can also have damaging consequences at the individual, team and even the organisational level, depending on the employee’s actions and position.

For example, at an individual or personal level, work quality and productivity can be adversely affected. A lack of action can also affect the rest of the team as morale falls, creating friction and a bad working atmosphere.

Unchallenged problem behaviour can also create far wider organisational and external issues by pushing good employees away, creating a negative culture, reducing the quality of customer service, lost business and a reputation as an unpleasant place to work.

5. Be specific

When addressing behaviour problems, you should aim to rely on factual information and direct observations rather than hearsay or subjective opinions wherever possible.

If you’ve witnessed the problem behaviour yourself, you should make notes about what you’ve seen. If the behaviour is happening when you’re not around, ask colleagues to do the same.

This means that you can refer to specific examples which illustrate where behaviour needs to change, rather than making vague generalisations.

When you bring hearsay or impressions into the conversation, you can find yourself squabbling over details, no matter how big or small.