Part 3: How to Manage Difficult Government Employees

 The Performance Institute is pleased to present the first in a three part series providing insight on How to Manage Difficult Government Employees authored by Stewart Liff.

 Part 3 of 3:  How to Handle Difficult Government Employees

The first and most important thing you should do is let them know what your expectations are. Should you identify someone as being a problem, let them know immediately what the problem is, what they need to do to correct their deficiencies and the consequences of not doing so. Once you do this, if the employee refuses to change, you need to take appropriate action; i.e. the consequences you told the employee would happen if he did not correct the deficiencies you cited. If you do so, everyone will get the message that you are serious, that your systems will be appropriately applied and that there are indeed consequences for poor performance/misbehavior.

Remember, whenever you have a poor employee you need to either change the employee or change the employee. The only scenario that is unacceptable is to retain the status quo.

 What Steps you can take to terminate a Government Employee

The big mistake that government managers make when dealing with difficult employees is that they move too slowly and weakly. Better to take a strong action(s) up front and bring the matter to a head as quickly as possible. Under this approach, management acts from a position of strength rather than weakness. In other words, the best way to get a difficult employee’s attention is to let her know her job is on the line and you are prepared to terminate her if necessary.

When this happens, most of the time you will resolve the issue either by the employee changing for the better or by the employee resigning, retiring, etc. You may not be aware that relatively few government employees who are fired ever appeal their removal since they usually settle in order to avoid having a removal on their permanent record.

In those cases where you have to remove the employee, work with an HRM expert to help you build a strong case. Management wins the vast majority of cases that go forward, especially before the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB.)

The key is to have a well-documented case file that shows you treated the employee fairly and that your actions were consistent with agency policy. Remember, whoever paints the better picture usually wins before a third-party, which is why the right HRM advisor can make all the

Go back and read Part 1 .

Go back and read Part 2.

View Stew Liff’s full webinar presentation, How to Manage Difficult Government Employees,here.

Stewart Liff is an HRM, visual performance management, and team development expert. He serves as a Fellow with The Performance Institute and is the author or co-author of seven books, including Managing Government EmployeesandA Team of Leaders.

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