Job Seeker Blog - Spark Hire

How to Handle an Insubordinate Employee

Strong teamwork is one of the most important fundamentals a company should possess. If all four wheels are aligned in the same direction at the same time, the vehicle moves along nice and straight. As soon as one wheel turns and goes off course, so too does the entire vehicle. That is why an insubordinate employee can be so detrimental to an organization. They could potentially lead the entire team astray. So before that corporate car veers off course, here are some ways to realign that insubordinate employee and make them fall in line with the rest of your team.

The reason for insubordination can stem from a number of things. Your job as a team leader or manager is to fix the problem, one way or the other. As I mentioned in previous writings, any bad eggs within an organization need to be tossed; they can become contagious. However, bad eggs can sometimes be saved, and there are plenty of opportunities to handle insubordination without firings. Sometimes insubordination by employees can stem from management. If an employee isn’t feeling challenged enough, he or she might act out, simply out of sheer boredom. Or if opinions aren’t being heard from everyone, insubordination can be used as a form of protest against certain managerial decisions. In any case, the hardest and most important step in handling an insubordinate employee is finding the reason for their rebellion. Once you know the problem, it’s easier to find the solution.

If you only think you know the problem, or you’re still not sure to why an employee is acting insubordinate, you still have to act quickly to fix the problematic behavior and decide what disciplinary action may be required. Review the employee’s history and find out if they’re a repeat offender. If so, there has to be a primary cause. Whether it’s management, or just he or she being unhappy with they’re career, you need to figure it out. The best form of action is to address the matter head-on. Let the employee know this perpetual behavior can’t be tolerated and make it known that something has to change.

However, some instances are beyond the scope of negotiation. A manager who gives off the impression as running an ‘anything goes’ type of organization can lead to a loss of respect. There are going to be some people that have to be made examples of in order to send an undeniable message to the rest of the team. Also, don’t leave HR out of the loop. Even though they tend to be strictly by the book in most cases having their expertise on certain situations could be beneficial. I personally like to keep everything in house- only bring it outside the team if it’s absolutely necessary.

The important thing is to communicate. Talk to the employee who is being insubordinate and see if a compromise can be made. More times than not, two adults can reason and express their personal concessions.

IMAGE: Courtesy of eHow

Chris Officer