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Reform Your Team’s Repeat Offenders

Sara Schafer

Here’s how to transform troublesome employees into all-stars

You have two choices in filling your farm’s talent pipeline: buy it or grow it. Because it’s hard to compete with city and big-company salaries, choose to invest in your team, suggests Tim Sackett, president of staffing firm HRU Technical Resources.

On any team, you’ll have certain personality quirks or work habits that frustrate you. These poor behaviors can drag down performance of others, explains Richard Hadden, a leadership consultant at Contented Cow Partners.

Here’s a lineup of those types of employees, and how to transition them into high performers.

Tardy Terry

Terry moves at his own pace. He can stay focused once he’s on a job, but you can’t remember the last time he was in the shop for the morning meeting. 

While Terry’s lateness might drive you nuts, Hadden says, have an honest view of your needs. Do you need attendance or output? “If it’s critical people be there at a certain time, make sure they know this is a condition of employment,” he says. 

Diva Dan

Dan is a legend in his own mind. He is king of the shop, which he won’t let anyone forget. His skills are great, but he only cares about working on equipment.

You know Dan has skills (as does he). So you need to feed his ego a bit, Sackett says. “Find the link between what the business needs and his interest,” he says. As the manager, you need to define success, and share it in specific ways.

Millennial Matt

Matt is always on his phone. He’s asked many times about promotions, even though he's new. Plus, he wants feedback and praise for just doing his job.

Matt has stereotypical traits of a millennial, but you need to throw your assumptions out the window, Hadden says. Be excited he wants to find new levels of success with your farm. Show him why his work matters in the big picture. 

Pity Patty

Patty’s family life is a soap opera, and everyone just asks too much of her. She’s not necessarily a bad performer, but everything is out of her control. 

The key to coaching Patty is clear performance metrics, Sackett says. Detail what you need her to do (verbally and in writing) and why it’s good for her role with the farm. Don’t give her easy outs. “Offer to knock down a barrier for her,” he says.



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