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Five Ways to Manage Your Employees’ Bad Habits


It can be frustrating being a small business owner or entrepreneur when your employees have a number is small, but niggly habits that can cause unnecessary problems, such as work submitted late or with major errors, and consistently late for work. The following are five ways to ensure that you address these habits correctly.

  1. Address the issues head-on

Normally, minor infractions are dealt with in two ways, you either blow it off or bring it to the attention of someone higher up. As the owner or entrepreneur, you may have employees coming to you explaining that someone has been coming in late consistently. Ensure that you talk to the late employee and bring up that you’ve noticed that they’ve been late. This tactic allows them to give an explanation if they have a valid reason and allows them to fix the problem themselves.

  1. Use nouns instead of verbs

Sounds very simple, but in a study, participants were asked the same question, but with a slightly different structure. They were “How important is it to you to vote in tomorrow’s election?” and “How important is it you to be a voter in tomorrow’s election?”. Surprisingly, the participants who were asked the ‘voter’ question were more likely to vote the next day. This is due to people subconsciously wanting to belong and feel like they’re needed, and by using a noun, it indicates that this person is a valued member of your team. Your employees will want to live up to the expectations you give them, so make sure you use positive nouns that makes them feel like they’re wanted.

  1. Use metrics to quantify impact

If they happen to continue to surf on social media even though you’ve previously mentioned to them to stop, the best way to get your point across is to quantify how their behaviour can affect the company. Work out the amount you’re paying this employee, broken down into minutes.

Once you’ve done this, show them that something so simple is actually costing the company £40 a week. If you can convert the time wasted into cost, it helps the employee understand what they’re actually costing the company per week meaning they could review their behaviour.

  1. Focus on what they’re gaining

It’s suggested that you should emphasise for your employee and make them consider what they’re gaining from working with you rather than what they’re losing. For example; if you’re trying to get them to stay until 5pm, try saying something like “I’ll give you my word that I’ll have you out of this office by 5pm every day,” instead of “I need you to stay until 5”.

By wording the question this way, it portrays as though you value your employee enough to make sure that they’re gone by 5pm, meaning that they are more likely to stay.

  1. Give them a number of options or allow them to craft their own solution to their infringement

Negotiate with your employee and state that you can dock their wage by the amount the business you will be losing each week from their bad habits, or they can correct them.

Another alternative could be to give them the power to make their own solution, this shows that even though the employee is in the wrong, you’re providing them with an opportunity to show you what they can really do and that you can trust them.


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