HR Forum

Time to toe the line

Are you a timid business owner or a human resource executive? Do you have trouble dealing with employee insubordination?

The best way to handle this problem is to react immediately.

Waiting can make matters worse. When other employees see a co-worker getting away with insubordinate behaviour, it encourages them to act the same way.

But you must confront the insubordinate worker using the policies or procedures in place.

A systematic, unbiased approach is necessary.

If you just blindly react to the employee in question, it can create chaos in the workplace.

Not only is this uncomfortable, but you also lose the opportunity to bring the employee back into the fold.

Also, you risk your reputation with the other workers and possibly with your management.

This will affect your ability to manage all employees in the long-term.

That said, effectively dealing with this problem in a professional manner is stressful for most managers.

Let me explain. Employee insubordination clearly tells you that your worker does not respect you.

This disrespect can occur in many different forms.

For example, an employee may talk back to you during inappropriate times.

Also, he may not listen to your directions or regularly “forget” what you told him to do.

Even worse, this worker may ignore your previous attempts at discipline.

Problem staff

You must deal with the problem employee immediately and professionally.

But how do you go about doing this?

First, review your current policies and procedures.

If you are a small business owner and do not have such policies, now is the time to create them.

Not only is it important to have a set of workplace rules, but every employee should also be familiar with them.

These rules can take the form of a handbook or just a simple posting or bulletin. Part of these rules should be to meet with the problem employee.

Why is this important?

Sometimes, employees have troubles related to their life outside their work environment.

Everyone has a story.

If you take the time to sit the employee down and draw him into a conversation that is not accusatory or confrontational, then he may explain what is going on with him outside work.

If this is the case, nine times out of 10 the employee will return to good behaviour.

However, if this tactic fails, then you must make full use of your policies and reprimand the employee.

Your job, as a business manager or owner, is to enforce workplace rules. Start down the path towards termination.

Often, it is difficult to fire an employee over a single incident of insubordination.

You may have to meet regularly with this individual, set goals and resolve problems on an ongoing basis.

Once the employee realises you are checking the situation, his behaviour may improve.

If not, you are already down the path of ending his employment.

Be aware that employee insubordination can severely damage your business.

Employees who disrespect authority in the workplace can lose the company potential clients, anger current customers or endanger their co-workers.

At the very least, it can lower overall productivity.

Arm yourself with policies and existing rules and tackle the situation head-on.

By doing this, you may bring the errant employee back into the fold.

And if the insubordinate worker elects to buck the system, you are better off without him.

This way of handling insubordinate workers will help preserve a more orderly workplace, making it better for all your employees. - Source: Singapore Straits Times/Asia News Network

Article by, which provides information and advice on employee insubordination for small business owners and human resource managers.