Ok, need some help on this one.

I have a direct who reports to me in a customer service phone center environment. We have had regular issues with general responsiblities such as tone of voice and not saying please and thank you (Obviously important in customer service), and on several occasions we have had direct feedback meetings aside from our usual one-on-ones to discuss these problems.

Today I had to finally place this employee on performance management as it has hit a boiling point. I sat down with the employee and explained specifically my expectations, and set goals for improving performance. To make a long story short, the rep refuses to comply, and will not be "challenged". After our meeting, my employee emails the entire team challenging me on a adjusting feedback email that was for a small unrelated issue, and stated I was not treating them the same as everyone else. This of course is not true, as all of my employees are treated the same and are expected to meet the same standards. It has been made very clear to this direct that they are valued, and that their individual success is my priority.

This employee has NOT been on performance management before today, however since my previous attempts to correct the behavior were unsuccessful, I had no choice.

Any advice on how to handle this difficult, defiant, and VALUED employee?

US41's picture

Gather up your folder full of O3 records where you put all of your notes about corrective guidance and feedback you've given, create a front page for it documenting the timeline of the downward spiral, document the objectives you laid out for the employee, and the email that they sent out to everyone.

Go to HR, and have them terminated effective immediately. If you can, arrange to have security meet them in their cube publicly and ensure they take no proprietary data from their cube, and escort them from the building.

TomW's picture
Training Badge

it sounds to me like you have someone actively disengaged on your hands who might be good at their basic job but is damaging the team's integrity and undermining your authority (though I should mention that email is not a very good way for you to give feedback)

I'd tell them that this behavior is endangering their employment and start rounding up documentation for HR to justify termination.

There's a lot of good information on this on the "How to Fire Someone" and "Late Stage Coaching" casts.

davidleeheyman's picture
Licensee Badge

Go to HR, and have them terminated effective immediately. If you can, arrange to have security meet them in their cube publicly and ensure they take no proprietary data from their cube, and escort them from the building.[/quote]

I fully agree with [b]US41[/b]. In my previous job I managed some 80 agents in a call center. Few of them really wanted to be there but all of them needed the job. There was a lot of attention given to coaching and helping the agents improve. But that only goes so far and there comes a point where you have to bite the bullet and let them get on with their lives.

This employee clearly is not interested in playing for the team and the sooner you can get him out of the call center the faster you'll be able to spend your valuable time on the agents that want to contribute and improve. The records of the O3s will be of great value to HR.

kevdude's picture

MTJunkie808, what is the latest?

JorrianGelink's picture

I agree with all. Remove the employee.

99% chance you'll find someone better and more valued, I don't see how this associate is valuable at all to be honest with you.

Good luck!

bflynn's picture

Question - why is the employee acting this way? OK, I really don't care why, but start looking in circles centered around you to see why. But it is irrational to me, which means there is probably more that I don't understand.

A lot of the suggestions have been how you start the exit're only there if you have decided to give up.

When you give feedback, are you doing it right? Smile, love in your heart, focus on the future? If you fail to get this employee to accept feedback, then I assure you...the failure is yours, not theirs. Feedback cannot be mechanical or procedural, its about relationships, actions and the future. Is your focus right?

Continue feedback. When they complain, give feedback on not taking feedback. You've been coaching him, keep the focus on HIM GETTING BETTER. Focus on the future, on the employee making the choice - change or leave. Keep caring right up to the point that you decide to cut your losses.

If you've reached that point, you know how to do it. And it will still suck.


MTJunkie808's picture

Thank you all for your feedback.

The short answer to all of your questions is yes; I have been very clear, fair, understanding, and honest with the feedback, and shown (not told) that I am not sitting there in judgement. My focus is on the work, and my expectations. The thing is, I have tried many different approaches with this direct, however they continue to disregard my feedback and continue to underperform. Just yesterday I asked the employee to stop by my desk, gave some adjusting feedback regarding a very small mistake, to which they replied very contentiously "I'm not incompetent!". No words were said or implied that they were, this is simply an example of a common reaction.

This employee has the attitude of "I'm being paid by the hour" if you know what I mean, and can have a controlling temperment some times. Now, I always look for the good, and give CONSTANT performance feedback both positive and constructive, so they know where they are at all times. It's really at the point now where I want (but wont) to have an "I dont care" attitude towards this direct's behavior, and work to get them out the door.

I do wish I were better, however when several different approaches fail to accomplish reasonable goals, I have to assume that barring gross negligence on my part this employee just doesnt want to change their entitlement attitude, and wont work with me to better his career.

What next? Is it time?

(Wasnt so short of an answer sorry!)

lazerus's picture

The idea of "giving" feedback is important. It is a "gift". Whether or not the direct accepts the gift is their own decision.

[color=olive]My humble opinion.[/color]

bflynn's picture

When they said "I'm not incompetent", I still wonder why. That is a response to feeling like you've been attacked. Feeling that way is their fault, but its your problem. Perhaps sharing the umbrella story would help? Can they tell you how you're poking them?

I suppose terminal coaching is in order. Make sure the focus is on behavior and the change in it. The employee gets to make the choice of the outcome, you get to make decision on timing.


SteveSherry's picture

I have a similar problem at the moment, after trying for 4 months to engage my direct i'm getting nowhere.
I simply get attitude at every step.
This lady isn't an idiot, and has now engaged in "other" methods of keeping her job (she can clearly see that things are not improving and she seems to have no intention of improving)
She's now taken to raising grievances with other people(mainly other managers) within the organisation(3 in the last 6 weeks), and our HR dept have reservations in firing her in case it's seen (from a legal persepctive) that we are "getting rid" of a "trouble causer".

MTJunkie808's picture

Happy Monday everyone, and a sincere thank you to everyone!

Ok, so I met with my direct on Friday afternoon for an open discussion on their recent drop in performance, and my perception of their work attitude (for lack of a better word). In general our meeting went very well, and I felt that my point was taken well and we came to some common ground. I explained my frustrations about the work product, and how I felt their recent performance was significantly below their ability as demonstrated in the past (specific examples were shown). All in all, I felt confident that my message was received and would be carried out, as I did not sit in judgement, rather had a one-on-one "chat".

This morning proved to be difficult however as this direct went right back to their old ways and made the exact same mistakes that we discussed on Friday. My meeting appears to be a loss.

Now what? Do I keep using resources to fix a problem that appears to not want to be fixed?

davidleeheyman's picture
Licensee Badge

[quote="MTJunkie808"]Now what? Do I keep using resources to fix a problem that appears to not want to be fixed?[/quote]

Why does this person still work there? It seems clear that they are not interested in being a part of the team. They aren't interested in meeting the expectations of the job. Why would you continue to spend time on this employee which could be better spent on the rest of your directs?

SteveSherry's picture

[quote="yosithezet"]Why does this person still work there? [/quote]

Spoken like a true high D
you took the words right out of my mouth :twisted:

US41's picture


I gave you my best guidance back in February. In my book, you've let this go on too long, you have been too slow and non-confrontational, and you've allowed this person to poison the team for these many weeks. I'm concerned that you don't ever intend to involve HR or end this person's employment even though that is clearly your only option.

Are you sure you are cut out for management?

Sorry for being so blunt... but I think you need it.

HMac's picture

41's comments remind me of something that occurred to me a couple of years ago:

[i][b]They may not admit it, but people look to their leaders to be led.[/b][/i]

Sorry if that sounds elitist or something - and I'll take whatever hits my fellow M-T'ers want to send my way (OK, it is a little bit of a generalization... :lol: ).

But it's been my experience that people on my team look to me to lead, to show the way, to set the goals or the vision - and they like it when I do it. They're not gonna follow me blindly or anything, and we have our disagreements - but that's reality.

So here's my takeway, MTJunkie808: Be the Boss. You're making a mistake if your problem employee leaves a feedback interaction thinking the two of you have had a "chat".

And lastly: OK, so the employee is VALUED...but is that value greater than the DAMAGE being done to the organization?


davidleeheyman's picture
Licensee Badge

[quote="HMac"]41's comments remind me of something that occurred to me a couple of years ago:

[i][b]They may not admit it, but people look to their leaders to be led.[/b][/i]


I agree very much! And if the leader doesn't lead the team members will become frustrated, disregard what the leader ask them to do, and some of those high D's are likely try to lead themselves.

MTJunkie808's picture

US41, No apologies necessary, as I appreciate your blunt feedback.

I am in the process of building my case, as HR wants more. This sounds like an excuse, but they feel that there is not enough to terminate right now. I of course disagree, as I have terminated three other directs for less but similar offenses in the past.

Poison is the correct word, as that is exactly what is happening. Termination is an option, and will be carried out as soon as the evidence I provide to HR is accepted. Make no mistake, I do not have any bones about terminating this employee if necessary regardless of their years on the job or anything else. My focus is on what they are doing [u]now. [/u]

To clairify the "Chat", I decided to use this approach after discussing the ongoing issues with my superior. My meeting was designed to be an open discussion about my expectations, and to make sure my direct understood those expectations. I did not want there to be any confusion regarding the above.

Your feedback has made me realize that this was NOT the best approach. I have an O3 scheduled with this employee this week, and will update my post shortly thereafter.

US41, again, thank you for your blunt comments. I'm not looking for sugar coated advice here, only the truth. That is the only way I can better myself as a manager.

Your advice is priceless.

US41's picture

Thank you for taking my post in the spirit in which it was offered.

From your latest, I now have the image of a man pulling on some work gloves and lowering his hat with a determined look on his face. Time to cowboy up and drop the hammer on the bad behavior. The rest of your team deserves it, and your direct is truly doomed yet clueless until you have that final confrontation.

Then you can release them and sleep the sleep of the just or see them finally "get it" - however unlikely I like to hope.


Take with you a bulleted list of unacceptable behavior with dates and occurrences - include feedback commitments missed. Go over it. Only use feedback to correct their behavior during the meeting. Get in their face. After you review the items, look up at them and say, "Your behavior is not acceptable. I want professionals on my team. I see this, and I think, 'This guy thinks we make him come here like its school.' This has to stop. Either you stop it, or I'm going to stop it. No kidding. We're done talking about this."

Have him sign the bulleted list under a sentence that says "I will change these behaviors beginning immediately." If he signs it and doesn't, then that goes in the evidence pile. If he doesn't, then call in a witness (your peer) to sign that he refused to commit to change.

That will add a powerful sheet of paper to HR's pile they want.

I know what you are dealing with. We have the same. HR tries to make it nobody's fault and avoids holding people accountable unless they themselves are counseled and forced to do so. They are watching the company's legal exposure - not its morale, not its performance.

A wise man told me three months ago, "Great managers take risks. They don't play it safe. They don't follow every little tiny rule."

That you would react in such a profoundly amazing way to the message I left tells me that you are that great manager.