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Tag Archives: behavioural problem

Got a problem employee? Don’t whitewash

This has been an eventful week in my world of column writing. Yesterday, my newest Profit article titled How to stay focused by managing workflow interruptions was published on, and this morning, my latest piece for The Globe & Mail‘s Leadership Lab hit cyberspace.

Got a problem employee? Don’t whitewash

is (as you might expect from the title) about “whitewash”, a communication blunder that many managers make where they seek to address a problem behaviour by issuing a broad edict to many, instead of being direct and specific with the particular employee who is the concern. Not only does whitewash not achieve the desired outcome with the problem employee, but perhaps more damaging, it is demoralizing to the high-performers on the team. So how do you NOT whitewash? By having a frank and straightforward conversation with the employee in question. But “How?” you ask. Well, my column gives you the answer by laying out the five key steps to structure your dialogue.


Well now I want to hear from you. What do you think? What have been your experiences with “whitewash”? How have you had that difficult conversation with a problem employee? I’m always interested in other perspectives and viewpoint, including contrary opinions. The primary reason I write these columns is to instigate dialogue; the more we talk about the subjects that make and break us as leaders, the more equipped we are deal with these topics. So please, add your point of view to The Globe‘s website, or if you wish, post your Comment here right on the blog, or send me a tweet (@mergespeaks).

And please help me get the word out and get the message to as many as possible … pass the link along to your staff and colleagues. I’d love their thoughts as well!

I’m looking forward to hearing from you. Here is a direct link to the article in case you need to cut and paste it elsewhere:

Dealing with dysfunctional workplace behavior

CPA_Mag_Apr2014In the newest issue of CPA Magazine*, writer Deanne Gage pens an interesting article on anti-patterns – undesirable and dysfunctional workplace behavior that manifests over and over again – and she sought out Merge’s expertise for advice on how to overcome several common situations.  For strategies to deal with cookie lickers, mushroom managers, credit grabbers, and hammerheads (or if you just even want to know what these terms mean!), read the article: Continue reading

An (even more) important reason to take action with your problem employee

BadAppleA new CareerBuilder survey, released last week, found that more than a quarter of the over 2,100 managers surveyed (from approx. 2,000 U.S.-based companies) have a direct employee that they’d like to see leave the company.  Even more interestingly, many of these managers chose NOT to directly confront and deal with the problem situation, instead choosing to engage in passive-aggressive behaviours, or drop hints, hoping (against all hope) that the offending employee would somehow get the message.

I don’t know what these managers are thinking … perhaps they’re hoping that if they just ignore the problem, it might just miraculously vanish!  Not!!  When you don’t address the situation with a non-performing employee, the problem gets worse, never better!  In fact, I think the greater tragedy is what your lack of action will do to the morale of the rest of your team.  Continue reading

The (only) four reasons for employee non-performance

If you have responsibility for people management, then you know that sometimes employees don’t meet job expectations to the level that is required. What you may not have realized though is that there are only four possible reasons why! In the latest issue of CGA Magazine, I outline the four possible reasons for employee non-performance, and (perhaps more importantly) give you two logical steps to manage the situation more effectively. Continue reading

Lousy Performances, Unacceptable Behavior or Rotten Attitudes? Live audio event on November 3

Unfortunately, at some point or another, every leader will encounter at least one – a problem employee who has a bad attitude and brings substandard performance and disruptive behavior to the workplace.  And if you’ve had even just one, then you know that a single bad apple can not only destroy productivity and team morale, but can also take up an excessive proportion of your time and energy.  And, to add insult to injury, the effort it takes to deal with a problem employee just leaves you less time to get a gazillion other things done, including investing in the motivated members of your team.  It’s time to learn how to take control of this difficult leadership challenge!  If you want to learn, for once and for all, the definitive process and specific techniques to deal with poor performance, unacceptable behavior and terrible workplace attitudes, then you absolutely must join me in this upcoming event.

Click here to register now.

I’m not going to be giving you any sophisticated theories or elevated philosophies in this program; just specific and practical tools and techniques that you can use right away to make positive progress with your problem employees.  You’ll learn:

  • Why it’s critical to differentiate between performance, behavior and attitude problems
  • Specific things to say and do when giving employees feedback – the difference between what works and what doesn’t!
  • Three steps to describing the performance problem – if you can’t verbalize it, then your employee can’t act on it!
  • The (only) four reasons employees don’t do what they’re supposed to do
  • What to do and say when an employee becomes defensive
  • The definitive process to systematically determine the source of the problem, and then decisively deal with the problem employee (laid out in an easy-to-use flowchart)
  • Tips for (relatively) painless documentation
  • The path to termination – the four steps in progressive discipline

Join me on November 3, 2010 at 11 AM MDT. Early bird pricing in effect ONLY until this Wednesday October 27!

Click here to register, or for more information.

What is the most difficult thing about managing problem employees?

Every organization has them – problem employees who have poor attitudes and bring shoddy performance and disruptive behavior to the workplace. Even though they are usually a small percentage of your entire team, if you’ve had even one, then you know that it’s one too many! A single bad apple can not only destroy productivity and team morale, but can also take up an inordinate amount of your time and mental space.

What obstacles do YOU face when it comes to managing employees with lousy performances, unacceptable behaviour or rotten attitudes? Tell me about your most difficult challenge at, and I’ll do my best to answer as many questions as I can during my live Audio Conference coming up on Wednesday November 3.

Problem employee? Is it performance, behaviour, or attitude?

If you’re in a position of formal leadership in your organization, sooner or later, you’re going to be faced with the problem employee.  This is the employee who misses deadlines, presents sub-standard work, is frequently tardy or absent, uses the telephone excessively for personal use, complains constantly, or has a tendency to be a “know-it-all.”  You know – the one that takes up a disproportionate amount of your time at work, and if that isn’t enough, keeps you up at night.

So … how are you going to address this problem issue with your employee?  Continue reading