Employees can go “rogue” in all kinds of ways and for all kinds of reasons. I’ve been blindsided as a manager by employees who took a small project and blew it up into something huge (unnecessarily). I’ve also experienced unexpected changes in workplace behaviours from employees who’d worked for me for a long time. It’s tough because it erodes trust that’s been built up over time, and can also impact overall operations when you no longer feel you can rely on someone who was always very reliable in the past. As a leader, you have to get to the bottom of it fast, here’s why:
However, when the disrespectful behaviour is new and the employee has been a great employee up to this point, it's important to approach the situation with caution and sensitivity. There could be underlying reasons why the employee's behaviour has changed, such as personal or work-related stress, health issues, or changes in their personal life.
Here are some steps you can take to address the situation:
Longstanding employees are the back-bone of any team or business, so it’s important to address the situation with empathy and understanding, while also being clear about your expectations for this employee's behaviour going forward. By offering support and following up regularly, you can help your employee improve their behaviour and get back to being the great employee you know them to be.
Additional things to consider in preparing for a feedback conversation with a longstanding employee include:
It's important to address disrespectful behaviour as soon as it becomes apparent, to prevent it from affecting the morale and productivity of the entire team. This can be a hard move, especially if you’ve never had to speak to this employee this way in the past. However, as difficult as this is, it’s a worthwhile investment. By being clear about your expectations and following up regularly, you can help the employee improve their behavior and maintain a positive work environment for everyone.