I don’t know too many people who enjoy confrontation. Sometimes it may feel easier to just ignore or excuse a difficult employees’ behavior with the promise to yourself that you’ll deal with your employee’s bad behavior the ‘next time’ the behavior occurs in the workplace. Or, you may choose to believe that it’s just ‘the way they are’ when faced with the need to address your employee who says something that is inappropriate, or who refuses to follow through on your requests.

Sometimes managers and business owners like to think of their work culture as being different from larger organizations and therefore get caught up in the belief that their employees are like family. There tends to be a much higher tolerance to what one is willing to tolerate when it comes to family members.

The fact is, when you are charged with overseeing employees, it’s your responsibility as a leader to ensure that all of your employees are not only doing the job that you are paying them to do, but that they are performing their jobs in a way that is respectful, collaborative and professional in a workplace environment.

You are ultimately responsible for the actions and behavior of your staff. Choosing to ignore all of the signs and not take responsibility to address and actively work towards resolving employee issues could have dire consequences for your business; some of which include:

Loss of Productivity: An employee who is being insubordinate, yelling at co-workers, or arriving to work late or not at all is an employee who is not working to their fullest capacity. Your clients and customers aren’t getting what they need from your organization which reflects poorly on you, and your company.

Negatively Affects Employee Morale: Don’t be fooled by the fact that you haven’t heard complaints about poor performing workers from other staff members. Poor performance from even one of your employees will have an impact on those employees who work most closely with your difficult employee.

Your employees are forming their own perceptions about not just their problem co-worker, and that person’s behavior, but they are also forming negative opinions about your ability to lead.

They’re thinking about how hard they are working versus their difficult co-workers. They’re wondering if you even recognize how hard they work day in and day out. They’re wondering if you notice or even care that they arrive to work on time, that they are always willing to help, and that they are always professional.

Creates Even More “Difficult Employee Issues”: Remember the childhood taunt, “Monkey see– monkey do”? Some of your employees may get the message that it’s o.k. to refuse to take on an assignment, that it is acceptable to use inappropriate language at work, or that it’s fine to arrive late because other employees are allowed to do so.

Your staff are watching very closely how you handle these difficult workplace situations whether you realize it or not. I can tell you from experience that your employees are very likely sharing their concerns with their co-workers, family and friends. Inaction can have far reaching consequences.

Perceptions of Preferential Treatment: Employees that see that you allow a co-worker to finish assignments late with no consequence, or who tell you what work they will do or not do are often viewed as ‘untouchable’ by their co-workers.

They surmise from your inaction that difficult employees can do no wrong in your eyes. This can lead to feelings of resentment.

Affects Employee Turnover: When your best employees dread coming in to work each day because there is always ‘drama’, or they perceive that some employees are getting preferential treatment, You risk losing your best employees based on their perceptions of your lack of leadership. In many cases, you won’t even have a clue that your employees are that unhappy until they are handing you their resignation letter.

Loss of Respect From Staff: Let’s face it, your employees just won’t respect you if you ignore workplace issues. I’ve counseled scores of employees at various organizations who will reference a manager’s lack of inaction during difficult work place situations as the primary reason that they’ve lost their respect for their manager. There is no confidence that a manager in these situations has the ability to effectively manage employees.

Potential for Lawsuits and Other Legal Issues: When you allow employees to cross the line in the workplace without taking immediate action, your remaining staff won’t feel confident enough to approach you with their concerns. They know from experience based on your past actions that you won’t do anything to address difficult employee issues and therefore don’t feel confident that you’ll even listen to their concerns. Some will feel that their only hope for resolution is with an attorney or some or regulatory agency.

Lost Customers, Clients and Money: When employees aren’t working up to their full capacity, or are treating others poorly, it can’t help but affect the bottom line which includes employees being less productive, and a loss of customers and clients. This in turn will almost always affect business growth and revenue.

These are just some of the consequences for not facing difficult employee issues head on. I’m sure that there are many others.

Take steps now to address difficult employee issues, no matter how small, before these issues turn into bigger ones. Not only will you be helping the offending employee improve their behavior, but you will be ensuring that your employees, customers and clients experience a workplace culture that is free of strife.

Author's Bio: 

Dianne Shaddock is the Founder of Easy Small Business HR, Employee Hiring and Managing Tips. Through the Employee Hiring and Managing Tips podcast, blog, and weekly ‘quick tips’ e-newsletters, Dianne offers expert advice on how to make better hiring decisions, manage difficult employees, develop employee policies, motivate staff, and so much more. No stuffy, corporate HR policy lingo; but straight forward, easy to understand and implement advice for businesses just like yours. Stay ahead of the curve and go to Easy Small Business HR.com for more tips on how to hire and manage your staff effectively.