How to Spot Problem Employees

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It doesn’t matter whether a business is small or already established, problem employees can surface in any workplace — and as a busy business owner, you may be able to spot them when it’s too late and your business has already been affected in dramatic levels.

No matter how hectic your work life is, it is best to keep an eye out on these toxic employees and deal with the situation the soonest possible. Problematic workers do not only damage a business’ reputation, they are also likely to spread their toxic behavior to other employees. But with all the work you’re juggling each day, how can you possibly determine which ones are detrimental to the company?

Watch out for negative feedback.

This is where customer feedback surveys come into importance. They do not only show feedback about your business, but more importantly, they reveal the quality of your customer service. Look for patterns of customer complaints directed to a particular department and narrow down the source of these complaints from there on. If you’ve got room for extra effort, observe your employees first-hand to see how they transact with customers.

Another great source for feedback are your employees themselves. Listen to their complaints regarding a particular employee. Since they are the ones who are able to work side-by-side with this problem employee, their observations should speak volumes.

Look for certain traits.

According to a study conducted by Dylan Minor, a professor at Northwestern University, there are several traits that prove to be major red flags when it comes to identifying a toxic employee. These include overconfidence and selfishness. If they overestimate their abilities, even to the point of using them as a scapegoat for a wrongdoing, or if they seem to care only about themselves, they might likely be unhealthy for your company.

Aside from this, a problem employee may feel strongly about rules, thinking that they should be followed at all costs. While this seems like an excellent trait, there may be certain situations where the rules may not make sense, and it is important for an employee to be able to determine when such cases arise.

Go back to your company’s culture.

If you have been trying to change the unethical ways of a particular employee for a long time now but to no avail, it may be because his or her personality is not aligned to your company’s culture and core values. Before anything else, you need to clearly define your culture and communicate it with your employees. Many failed CEOs usually do not have a clue, but building a culture and establishing core values are an important first step in creating a company. This does not only define your reputation, but this will also allow you to easily spot when someone doesn’t fit in.

For instance, if you believe that a drug-free workplace can benefit the company and all of its workers, then you must enforce a strict policy against it, whether by implementing a pre-employment marijuana testing or an annual urine drug test to random employees.

Your employees can make or break your company, and before it can do the latter, it is best to keep a finger on the pulse of your business at all times and fix a problem before it gets worse.

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