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Employees do not always know what is expected of them; formal procedures can help address undesired behaviour in the workplace. For example, a dress code can inform employees how they are expected to present themselves at work. Job descriptions can list the tasks that are inherent in the job, the responsibilities which they are expected to discharge and even performance targets. A formal induction process can build relationships, clarify the job description and indicate the standards of behaviour expected.

Despite all this there will be employees who fail to ” get the message” or “push the boundaries”. Such employees may be unreliable, careless, or introduce inappropriate humour to the workplace. These are just examples.

Such transgressions need to be addressed politely firmly and early on.

Formulate carefully in your mind what is wrong. You need to be able to express this clearly so that the employee will understand your expectations. When you speak to the employee do not be apologetic about needing to have a word with them. Be comfortable with expressing your disappointment at their behaviour. But you also need to treat them with respect. Once you have made your point, do not labour it. The chances are that 90% of the work they do meet your expectations. So once you have made your dissatisfaction clear, cement the positive aspects of your relationship. Add a little praise about the 90% that they do well. Make clear that you respect them as a person. This is very important. It is also helpful if you’re able to change the conversation to some matter, so you can both move on.

Employer Solutions offers training where you can practice the process in a safe environment.

Overall it is about communicating expectations. Done well, and early on, this will establish sound adult to adult relationships that should resolve the undesired behaviour.

Malcolm Martin FCIPD

Author Human Resource Practice

Blogs are for general guidance and are not an authoritative statement of the law.