Help for those sticky situations

Nov 14 2007 by Print This Article

Personal situations are messy and asking questions or talking to employees about them can be incredibly difficult. Over at, Sarah E. Needleman has some advice for supervisors in her article Sticky Situations: Six Tips for Managers.

The first thing you need to do is define exactly what the problem is. If an employee is starting to show up at work unshaven and unwashed then you need to confront him about that problem.

"You need to be clear on exactly what the problem is and what changes need to be made," says Craig Silverman, executive vice-president at

Next, be sure to give the employee a chance to respond. Ask them for an explanation. Maybe there is a real reason that they are misbehaving and you can help them with it.

Third, just remember you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar. You may want to try praising your employee for past achievements before questioning them about their current problems.

Fourth, this is a good time to increase your skills at being compassionate. Don't just tell the person with bad breath that their mouth stinks. Give them suggestions for helping the problem and have sympathy for them.

Fifth, whatever the problem is once, you talk to the employee enact your plan immediately. Taking quick action prevents the problem from festering.

Finally, if all else fails, make sure you give the employee a clear and concise warning. You may even want to put the warning in writing. Let the employee know how close they may be to being terminated.

It can take a lot of courage to confront a troublesome employee. Still, with some tact and real solutions in your pocket, you can probably resolve the issue without the situation getting out of control.