5 November 2015

Five types of employee and how to deal with them

While a well-executed recruitment process can help filter out job candidates who might not be right for an organisation, it is not always possible to tell exactly what “type” of employee a person will be until they’re in the job. Here are five employee “types” you might come across and our top tips for dealing with them.

1. The Underperformer

Keeping in mind that an employee will not have access to the unfair dismissal jurisdiction for the first six or twelve months of his or her employment (depending on the size of the organisation), how to deal with the Underperformer will, in part, depend on how long he or she has been employed.

When confronted with a chronic Underperformer who does not respond to performance management, employers should consider the following questions:

  • “Does the Underperformer really want to be here?”
  • “Is it worthwhile attempting to negotiate a separation?”

2. The Complainer 

The Complainer is never happy, and everybody knows it. Complaints should always be taken seriously and employers should err on the side of caution, bearing in mind that an employee has a workplace right to make a complaint in relation to his or her employment, and to pursue a claim if adverse action is taken against them for exercising that right.

This does not mean, however, that unwarranted complaints should be allowed to affect workplace morale. Employers must assess whether a complaint is legitimate or symptomatic of a behavioural issue that needs to be addressed.

3. The Coaster

While not the poorest performer, the Coaster applies minimum discretionary effort to his or her duties and is not seen as adding value to the organisation. By developing a high-performance culture, an organisation can send the message that coasting is not enough.

One key to a high-performance culture is an effective performance management process. Performance management should be seen as a genuine opportunity, and an effective process will involve communicating shared goals, clearly defining targets and timeframes and ensuring investment on both sides of the table.

4. The Bully

It is important for an organisation to engender a culture of mutual respect and tolerance through behaviour and culture training for all employees, both on commencement of employment and throughout its duration.

An organisation must not turn a blind eye to the Bully’s misconduct. Doing so may expose it, for example, to vicarious liability for harassment or material obligations imposed on it under an order to stop bullying.

5. The Star

Organisations must not allow their best employees to get lost in the mix. An effective talent retention strategy should be developed, based around short-term and long-term monetary and non-monetary incentives, employee recognition and opportunities for career development.


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