Most business owners and managers have to deal with employees who consistently disregard instructions. These workers always find excuses, miss deadlines, and seem to blatantly ignore directives and procedures. However, even the most experienced leaders can still find managing difficult employees challenging.
So, what should you do when you discover an employee not following directions?
Acknowledge That the Problem Exists
If you notice one of your subordinate employees causing issues, you must deal with the problem promptly. We all have to juggle multiple things at the same time, but you cannot keep denying that an issue exists. You cannot ignore it and hope that it will resolve itself. Eventually, you’ll end up resenting your employee for the problem you never even called them out on. Moreover, you’re allowing them to become a bad example for other workers who see their behavior.
As such, it is best that you find the ideal time to discuss the issue with your employee. Take them to a private meeting room and let them know your concerns.
Listen to Your Employee
Before you jump to conclusions and start judging your worker, you need to listen to what they have to say. In some cases, employees are not necessarily insubordinate — they are just struggling to follow instructions. Now, this can be challenging because when workers fail to meet expectations, it can be frustrating to the manager. So, listening to your employee may be the last thing on your mind.
Even so, if you are an effective leader, you should be sensitive enough to know that your subordinates are struggling. You have to understand that your best bet at improving the situation is by sympathizing with your employee. In most cases, the simple act of listening can reveal the best solution to the problem. So, set your personal biases aside and get the other side of the story. You should do this before moving on to the next step and making decisions.
Identify the Root Cause of the Issue
Remember to be respectful and courteous when speaking to your employee. However, you must still ensure that youget your point across in an effective manner. If they come out of the meeting without fully understanding the situation and the solution, then the entire discussion was useless. Make sure you discover the root cause of the issue. As we’ve mentioned, you should give your employee the chance to explain their side of the story. Also, during the conversation, you should ask yourself, “Is the issue rooted in attitude or knowledge?”
When employees do not meet expectations, a lot of managers easily chalk it up to negative behavior. Sometimes, workers fail to follow procedures because of inadequate or poor training. If they are ill-informed, they won’t understand that what they’re doing is wrong. So, before looking for a solution to employee insubordination, you must determine who is at fault: your worker or the company. Here are some of the reasons why people fail to follow instructions:
1. The Instructions Are Complicated
It is natural for people to take the easier route. So, if your employee notices that the instructions and processes are too complicated, they might try to cut corners. Humans have a tendency to choose the path that requires less effort and the least resistance. Consequently, they may end up by passing instructions that they deem to be too complicated.
2. There’s No Proper Training or Communication
Employees can make mistakes when you don’t properly communicate the instructions to them. If you want to ensure process compliance, it is crucial for you to provide proper training. Even if you’re managing remote employees, there are tools that will allow seamless communication and collaboration. So, if you find your worker missing an instruction, then check if they understood the process correctly. You can conduct training to ensure that they have a thorough knowledge of the process.
3. They Don’t Believe in the Process
There will be cognitive dissonance or inner conflict when a person does not have faith in what they’re told to do. Indeed, this can be a reason why employees fail to follow instructions. In this case, proper communication once again comes into play. You have to make sure that your employees understand how the instructions you’ve set are justifiable.
4. There’s No Proper Leadership
Leadership is a competency that has to be developed. You have to use all the information and tools necessary to mold employees into compliant and responsible workers. A research conducted by the Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine revealed the reasons why people follow their superiors’ instructions. 34% of the respondents mentioned that their manager’s professionalism is a big factor in why they comply with company procedures. So, if you seem all over the place, it can be a sign that you’re not taking your job as a leader seriously. Consequently, your subordinates won’t care to follow the directives you give.
5. They Don’t Feel the Gravity of the Consequences
Does your company take punitive action against workers who will fully or unintentionally disregard instructions? Do you follow through warnings? If employees notice that their actions do not result in consequences, they may continue being non-compliant. After all, they can always get away with violating company procedures. In this case, you have to develop a culture where in employees understand that non-compliance has grave consequences.
6. There’s No Engagement Among Employees
A Dale Carnegie study revealed that engaged employees are more dedicated and committed to contributing to the success of an organization. The same study mentioned that one of the drivers of engagement is a worker’s relationship with their direct supervisor. Now, when employees are disengaged, they are unlikely to adhere to instructions. You have to make your subordinates feel valued. Make thempart of the process and let them become involved in the growth of the organization.
Enforce Consequences and Set Boundaries
As a manager, it is your responsibility to set the rules and enforce the consequences of non-compliance. As we’ve mentioned, if employees feel that they can get away with bad behavior, they will continue what they’re doing. On the other hand, if they know that the penalties will sting — even a bit — they will want to avoid them. Even so, if you only keep warning them without letting the situation escalate to proper consequences, they won’t respect you or follow your instructions.
The Proper Documentation of Issues
Now, if things get out of hand and your employee’s behavior gets worse, it’s time to let them go. However, it can be a struggle to enforce employment discipline when you don’t have proof of the individual’s behavior. There can be various reasons why anyone would lack proper documentation. For instance, managers say that they don’t have the time to keep records. Others would say that they don’t like the idea of being suspicious of their employees.
In cases like this, it’s important to remember that this sort of problem doesn’t go away on its own. As issues happen, you must document them properly. Having the information you need is a crucial part of resolving the problem. Just imagine the relief you’ll feel knowing that you have adequate documentation for addressing an issue. This way, you can move forward with the consequences without feeling like you’ve done someone an injustice.
Now, it can be challenging to manually keep records of what your employees do during work hours. Thankfully, you can automate the process by using a time tracker that takes screenshots. For instance, you can use Traqq to monitor your employees and check if they are complying with the instructions you gave them. It’s also worth noting that Traqq monitors the apps, websites, and programs your workers are using.
As such, you’ll learn if they are spending time on work-related tasks or just loitering online. Traqq takes screenshots and stores the media files in secure, encrypted cloud storage. So, once you need documentation of your employee’s behavior, you can check the screenshots from the time tracker. This way, you’ll know how to deal with employees who don’t follow instructions.