I'm a manager in a small company that, like most companies these days, is suffering from the economic climate.

One of my employees has a history of aggressively disagreeing with management, and actively avoiding work on things he disagrees with. After some discussions, he promises he'll change his behavior. In normal circumstances, I'd watch his behavior and give him feedback.

Bottom line.. When should I shorten the "coaching" timeframe? In a time of crises, it doesn't seem like it's in the best interest of the company to spend months of time coaching when there is years of history and no guarantee of a favorable outcome.

Of course, I might be over-reacting. Advise would be greatly appreciated.

madmatt's picture

Give him specific feedback and positive encouraging coaching as much as you can handle. But first say that you are seeing these behavior patterns--list the specifics--and ask what he can do differently. Back up his suggestions of different behaviors with frequent, regular supportive feedback and coaching. Tell him that you will be doing so, and that he should (please) ask for this feedback and coaching if he feels he is not getting it.

If you do this at your best effort, for as long as you can afford to focus on it and you still don't see the behavior change, get a new employee.

With that said, coaching and feedback are cheap. Definitely cheaper than hiring and training a new person. You be the judge on this one. In this economy you're likely to find an excellent candidate, so if behavior does not change despite your best efforts and in the long-term someone more agreeable will give you better results, make the switch as soon as possible.

asteriskrntt1's picture

Hi Greg

Disclaimer 1 - I am pretty frustrated in my job search right now and have no empathy for those who are employed and put themselves at risk. My leash is pretty short! Now, on to our regularly scheduled response :)

Disclaimer 2 - I am assuming that the employee will not react positively to your feedback, so I am offering my version of a very strong shot across the bow (and probably not exactly like the MT version).

Is this person an outstanding performer in other ways? If not, you invest in your top performers and spend little on the lesser performers. If he can be easily replaced, go for it. Sounds like he has had ample opportunities to shape up but no one held him to his promises. I won't go into management's role in this. We are focusing on the future.

The shot across the bow may include something like "Can I give you some feedback or something to think about? You were not hired to criticize and comment on company strategy and management process. You were hired to do X,Y and Z. Yet, you are continually criticizing and commenting and not doing X,Y, and Z. You have broken numerous promises to change your behaviour. Management is actively questioning if it is worth it to keep you as an employee. Given the economy and the ease of finding someone with your credentials right now, it doesn't look like it will be a difficult decision if things continue the way they have."

If you are going to feedback and coach him again, put a strict deadline on it. You have 4 weeks to change this behaviour (yep, that is how we spell it in Canada). Make it clear there will be zero tolerance past that point and that his job is on the line.


Davis Staedtler's picture


Document all of your conversations and feedback regarding the behaviors you have observed. This documentation will support termination if and when that is needed.

On a lighter note... I like these kinds of employees. They challenge us. Keep us sharp and our behavior-radar active. Coaching to performance is necessary if the employee is performing badly. A bad attitude sometimes doesn't affect performance, so aggressive and ongoing feedback needs to stay consistent so the employee never receives a signal that you are dropping your guard or your awareness.

In my opinion, the economic climate should have no affect on how or when you deliver feedback or coaching. You can't control the economic climate, but you can greatly influence you employee's behaviors and performance. *RNTT's point about the shot across the bow is great too. Keep firing :)


akinsgre's picture

Thanks everyone. I talked to my manager and she is willing to accept the risk that he won't be 100% committed, because she feels like the company can't handle the disruption of removing him right now.

I am going to put some deadlines on the coaching, document the results and work hard to get a better outcome while preparing that things might not go well.