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HUMAN RESOURCES

5 Types of Employees Bosses Hate (and How to Fix the Problem)

If your employees cause you more stress than your clients, it's time to fix some employee problems. Here are some suggestions.

Do your employees drive you up the proverbial wall? When you go home, do you inundate your spouse with stories of how awful they are? If so, you'll probably recognize these employees, and appreciate our solutions on how to fix the problems:

1. Doesn't respect your time. This employee comes in late every morning and leaves early often. If a meeting starts at 9 a.m., she'll saunter in, with her coffee at 9:15. She does great work, but everyone is left waiting for her to show up.

The solution: Some people have no sense of time. Others are simply rude. You need to figure out which one she is. If she has no sense of time, stop by her office and pick her up on your way to the meeting, or assign someone else to do so.

But if she's just rude? Well, stop playing those games. Do not, under any circumstances, hold meetings for her. Begin on time. If she's not there, reassign the big, cool projects to someone else--even if she would be the best person to do it. Don't catch her up when she walks in, just keep going. As for getting to work on time or leaving early, as long as her work is spectacular, ignore it.

2. The whiner. For some reason, this employee still acts like a junior high schooler. Everything is unfair, and by golly, he's going to let you know. Jane came in late, Steve was watching a YouTube video, and Heidi was chatting with the UPS guy, all while he was slaving away. This is UNFAIR, and he's in your office telling you. And let's not even talk about how his salary (which you know is at market rate) is far less than he deserves.

The solution: Did your mom ever say, "My ears don't hear complaining?" If not, she should have, and you should say the same thing. Give him a warning first: "I do not want to hear negative things about any of your coworkers. It's my job to manage, and your job to do your work. The only thing I want to hear is if something is violating the law. Otherwise, do not tell me."

Now, as to the whining about salary, just say flat out, "Your salary is based on the market rate. If you feel that you can do better elsewhere, I wish you the best of luck in your job search." This shuts people up pretty quickly.

3. The slacker. This person never gets anything done, is always behind, pushes things off onto coworkers, and is basically a drain on the business.

The solution: Fire the slacker. Yep. Why on earth are you keeping someone around who doesn't do any work? If you want to just give money to people who don't help your business grow, try a charity. Put the slacker on a 60-day performance-improvement plan, with clear goals and benchmarks. If the slacker doesn't straighten up, then that's it. Out the door.

4. The socially-inept genius. Yes, it's a stereotype that the genius smells bad, doesn't get social cues, says things that make others uncomfortable, and is wearing the same shirts that his mom bought him in 1997. But, once in a while you may run into the person who the stereotype was created around. He's smart and does good work, but you cringe when you see him, and his lack of understanding social cues and penchant for saying inappropriate things means you live in lawsuit fear.

The solution: Telecommuting! Seriously. Social cues don't matter nearly as much when you're not interacting socially. Communicate via email and IM and state things clearly. No misunderstanding social cues.

Many, many jobs can be done remotely. Unless it's mission critical that your socially-inept genius be on site, every day, offer the chance to telecommute. Most people would jump at the opportunity, and your problem is mostly solved.

5. The needy employee. She's always looking for positive responses, and heaven forbid you should criticize her. She might burst into tears. She expects a promotion after six months and can't understand why she didn't get it. She wants a pat on the head for coming to work on time and a gold star for responding to emails.

The solution: A lot of this behavior is blamed on helicopter parenting as of late, and I won't disagree with that. But it's not limited to employees who are new to the workforce. You can find this behavior in people of every generation.

This type of behavior demands an intervention and clear expectations. A sit-down meeting, with notes, helps. "Jane, we believe in giving positive feedback for great performance, and will do that. However, your expectation that you receive positive responses for regular work is unrealistic. You need to do your job, and that includes coming in on time and responding to all client emails within 45 minutes." It's surprising, but some people have really never been told this.

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IMAGE: Getty Images
Last updated: Mar 12, 2014

SUZANNE LUCAS | Columnist

Suzanne Lucas spent 10 years in corporate human resources, where she hired, fired, managed the numbers, and double-checked with the lawyers.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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