This year, we have seen an increase in the number of disciplinary matters we have helped our clients navigate, particularly at the serious misconduct level. It’s an ugly space to work in and even uglier for our clients as they work through a good faith process to address the incident(s).

Yes, there are some angry employees (and employers) out there. But in my experience, there should be very few reasons why matters would get to the serious misconduct level as the warning signs often show up earlier. You just need to know what to look out for.

The Red Flags

The signs that an employee is not going to be the right fit for your business often show up during three key stages.


Stage 1: The recruitment process

From the moment a candidate contacts you through to shortlisting, interviewing and reference checking, it’s an opportunity for you to assess fit.

  • Is the candidate engaging, polite and happy on the first contact?
  • Do they make it easy to book interviews, provide additional information, etc.?
  • Are they respectful about their previous employers and the opportunity in front of them?
  • Are you asking their referees the tough questions about their fit, their approach to others and their ability to get on with the task at hand?

If you answered no to any of the above, take a moment to stop and think. If you are doubting yourself about the candidate, they’re probably not the right hire for you. If you’re finding yourself giving them the benefit of the doubt after their reference checks, they’re almost certainly not the right hire!

Stage 2: The first 90 days

If you have made provisions in your employment agreement for a trial period (and have it signed off before the employee started working for you) then those first 90 days are a gift. They are an opportunity to assess the employee’s fit, from attitude to skill.

Throughout those first 90 days, you should be asking yourself:

  • Has the employee progressed as you would expect them to?
  • Have they developed good working relationships with their workmates and are they working well as part of the team?
  • Have they demonstrated your business values and conducted themselves well?

If you answered no at any stage during those first 90 days, you should consider whether exiting the employee under the 90 days is appropriate.

Stage 3: When the employer has failed to address attitudes and behaviours

We often have a client contact us frustrated and fed up with their employee, wanting us to “get rid” of them. When we dig a little and ask the sticky questions, we regularly discover that the behaviours have been happening for months. Even years. Why? Because the employer doesn’t feel equipped to deal with the issues or is hopeful the employee will change their ways.

Nipping matters in the bud early is key! It doesn’t have to be complicated. It could be as simple as pulling the employee aside, quietly letting them know their behaviour is not acceptable and outlining what is expected. Remember to follow that up in writing.

You might have to do this more than once, but if it becomes a frequent occurrence then it is most likely time to call in your secret weapon – your friendly HR Advisor. They give you additional tips to manage your employee or, if needed, help you work through a performance improvement or disciplinary process.

In Closing

Managing problem employees doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated.
Remember this acronym … LADS

  • Listen to your gut
  • Act early
  • Document your actions
  • Seek advice

And, if it is in your too hard basket, give us a call here at People in Mind on 07 823 3250 and we’ll help you get started.