Were you raised to follow directions, especially when they come from a boss or other form of authority? Some people think that they must have input on what they are told to do, especially on the job. They might even refuse to take on a task unless they get their way.
There is nothing wrong with someone providing input when requested, but workers need to understand that following orders is not an option.
When you survey workers about job satisfaction, one of the most popular items is a desire to buy into the vision of an organization and to be able to feel like a person’s work is of value. But there is a time and a place for questions, and a time to get the work done.
I’ve found that workers who ask many questions about an assignment can be the most beneficial person on your team. They force you to rethink your strategy. They might have a good idea to improve a process. At a minimum, they keep you from sticking with a method that needs revision. Defending your plan is going to help you make sure you are proceeding correctly.
That is a big difference from the worker who asks questions but then refuses to accept the answer. Once a decision has been made, the debate must stop. Questions can be asked as long as they are helpful. If you find that a worker who still disagrees with your strategy and is not on task, you need to pull that person aside and address the issue.
The problem must be addressed promptly
I knew a manager who hated confrontation. He wanted to ignore a problem until the next formal performance evaluation. He allowed bad behavior to continue and appear to be acceptable to others.
People Do Make Mistakes
You will want to ask a problem worker why they have taken a particular action counter to the instructions they were given. Listen to their story. Can you see where they might have misunderstood what you told them, or does it just seem like an unsupported excuse? If they always have a reason without taking ownership of a problem, the chances are that the behavior is not accidental.
When you confront an excuse-making employee, make sure you handle the situation with certainty and dignity, boldly yet calmly. Employees who are always ready with excuses are just as problematic as the person who refuses to take on a task.
Be direct and don’t mince words.
If someone refuses to do their job, they need to understand that you are running the department or project. They need to be reminded that you listened to everyone’s ideas before you set the direction. Never back down at this stage, or you will damage your credibility as a leader.
Discipline as needed.
If someone is working on a high-profile project, you can remove them. Always be sure that the level of punishment fits the offense. Remember that you are still focusing on the behavior in question and not the person. Keep written records of your conversations and actions.
It matters what you say (and how you say it) during conversations like this. That is part of what I researched for my online course, “Managing Difficult Employees.” If you struggle with managing situations like this, I know you can benefit from this 90-minute course. Check it out here. The next time you have to deal with an employer who wants their way, you will be glad you did.