4 Challenging Employees and What To Do About Them

Employees are the life of any organization. We spends hours recruiting, screening and interviewing them. After we have hired them, we spend more time training, coaching and monitoring them.

And when it’s all said and done, we like to think that we have contributed to the Dealership’s future and had a hand in weaving the very fabric of that Dealership.

And in every Dealership there are some employees we label as “The Challenges”.

These people make us wonder why we became managers.

Maybe you inherited them… maybe you hired them and maybe… you managed them into the underachievers they are.

Whatever the situation, you have got to find a way to transform them from the under performing underachievers into consistent contributors to your Team.

Here are 4 of the most Challenging individuals and some strategies in guiding them through their transformation into Performing Team Members.

Before we go too far, there is one rule you must be aware of.

You can’t fix their Attitude. They own it. It belongs to them. The only way it changes is through their thinking.

What is an Attitude? Let’s define it before we move on.
I like this definition, see if you don’t agree.

An Attitude is a thought process. It is a reflection of a person’s internal reaction to their external environment.

Attitudes are influenced by emotions, actions, reactions, events and people. They can be extremely fragile or incredibly strong. And they change constantly in some people.

If you spend your time trying to change the “Attitude” instead of focusing on the “Behavior” you will die a slow death in Leadership hell smashed against the rocks of “The Unchanged Cliffs” much like a beached ship washed upon a coral reef.

Here are the 4 most common underachievers.

The Axe Grinder. This person exists in every Dealership. They are the one person that had something happen to them in their employment and they believe the Dealership or the manager had a hand in it. They are the ultimate “conspiracy theorist” when it comes to changes within the Dealership. To them, everything that has happened to them was the result of “poor management” and if they ran things everything would be perfect.

Instead of focusing on a solution, they would rather focus on telling everyone how “messed up” the Dealership or you, the manager is. They prefer to carry around their sad tale regaling coworkers from time to time with their own private philosophy and “management style.” (This is the “What I would do if” scenario)

They can become quite bitter towards the Dealership and even other co-workers if they are allowed to continue with their Axe Grinding.

The Fix. It’s a 3 step process. 1st, identify the Grinders main problem or issue. This can be extremely difficult to get to because, as with most Grinders, they usually have a list of things that are wrong. You need to focus on the items on their list that are repairable and can be addressed. Get them to acknowledge that  there are  things that will never be fixed and to put them away for good.

2nd. Ask for their help in resolving the issue(s). This is the buy in. You can’t move to step 3 without getting the Grinder to say that the solution you both agree on will take care of the issue to their satisfaction.

3rd. Describe the course of action you will take and describe the behavior that you expect from the Grinder from this point forward. Notice I did not say anything about “changing their Attitude” or “shape up.” If you want them to stop talking to everyone about everything that has ever happened then tell them that it is part of the agreement. One final thought here is that they agree to bring to your attention other problems before they get out of hand and they have a solution they believe will solve the problem.

The Agenda Maker. These folks have something to prove. They are totally focused on getting something done for themselves, quite often, at other people’s or the Dealership’s expense. They are not team players and do not have anyone’s interests in mind but themselves. In order to get what they want, they have been known to undermine other coworkers or you.

Quite often they are brilliant in what they do. Many Dealership’s rely on their performance. The numbers they produce can make or break a month or even a quarter. For many managers it becomes a matter of managing the lesser of two evils.

Every Dealership needs performance, and yet every Dealership requires cooperation and harmony to excel. Your internal battle is “For performance and numbers, do I allow this person to run roughshod over my department? Treat other workers poorly? Maybe even become arrogant to the point of openly defying management?”

The Fix. This includes identifying the behavior and setting some boundaries for this individual. By letting them know that you do not nor will you allow them to set the pace or tone for your department, you are also setting the expectations for their continued employment.

Tell this person that you appreciate their efforts, and will continue to support them in the performance of their duties. At the same time, let them know that you require cooperation and that if they want to play their own tune they may have to find another band.

Ask them to help build the department or business. Ask them to help train and support other team members. In some cases they are actually looking for additional duties and would like to have a hand in developing the business.

If they are not willing to play by the rules, they leave.

Mad Bombers. These are the quiet people. They never say much. (In public) They can be aloof to the point of unfriendliness (sometimes).

Now, some of you are saying, so what? Hey, at least they are being quiet, and doing their job… what more do you want?

This is the problem with these employees. One day, they come into your office and say “I want to file a complaint” or “I’ve taken another position” or “This is a hostile work environment” or any number of other bomb drops.

Because they feel they are not involved in the Success and Daily Dealership Business they never tell you what is going on and they have little loyalty. The bombs they drop often are the result of years of feeling “stepped on” or “I’m not appreciated.”

The Fix. Identify them and ask them for their input regularly. Get them involved and talking about what they are involved in. These folks will require a little more MBWA time and will open up if they feel you are genuinely interested in them. Here is a hint. You can learn at lot about your Dealership by talking to the quiet folks rather than the noisy folks. They are generally great observers.

Help them become better participators by involving them in more daily activities. You might consider starting a Toastmasters or speaking club in your Dealership, as these folks will benefit from speaking in public.
Make sure you involve them in making decisions and policy by openly asking for their input and suggestions.

Paychecker. These folks are here for the money. They perform their duties as well as anyone else; however, they will not perform above the call of duty.

They never volunteer for anything, yet are first in line for the food at the annual Dealership picnic. You can count on their coming to work, and not much else. They do not have much loyalty, and can become job hoppers.

They are also the “first” complainers. Every time something new comes about or requires a little more effort than before, they complain. Then they put their hand out.

In some cases, they can become the “malicious obedience” or “selective obedience” employees. They never doing anything outright that would get them fired for say malfeasance or performance, but they just tip toe the line right on the edge.

The Fix. This is a 3 step process.

1st. Let the Paychecker know that they are performing at an “average” level. Help them see that meeting minimum levels only guarantees that they will have minimum paychecks and that continued performance at average will mean that they get replaced first should the need arise.

2nd. Identify goals that can be met and achieved by the Paychecker that will lead to increased levels of production and pay. Help them see a new vision of them that will happen if  they commit to an increased level of performance.

3rd. Plan to review with them monthly for the first 90 days and see what progress they have made on their goals. Once they see that you are really interested in their achievements, they will begin to come around.
If they persist in maintaining minimum levels, give them duties and tasks that reflect those levels. If they wish to always remain a “Paychecker”, chances are you will not have them in your employ too much longer, as they are always looking for the BBD. (Bigger, Better Deal)

One final thought.
There is not a “one all fixes all” solution for these underachievers.

It requires some serious thought on your part, designed implementation and regular follow-up. (Persistence) You can’t have one meeting with any of them  and expect that all will be perfect from this day forward. It doesn’t work that way.

Take the time to identify the underachiever, make a plan that gives you and your Dealership an opportunity to help someone make a change for the better and follow through.


2 responses to “4 Challenging Employees and What To Do About Them

  1. Hit nail on the head again Leonard. I smiled, I nodded, I appreciate. Thanks.

  2. Thanks David. Glad you found something to smile, nod and appreciate!

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