Employees commonly showing up late to work, forgetting to clock in or causing other problems in the workplace can disrupt your business and impact employee morale. While there is technology to help cut back on some of these problematic areas, sometimes an employee continues to stir the pot.

If someone at work demonstrates lack of respect or issues with time and attendance, those issues need to be addressed. It may be uncomfortable to talk with the individual but it is best to solve problems when they first arise rather than letting them become even bigger down the line.

Here are some steps that will help when dealing with an under-performing employee:

1. Identify the Problem—Before It Grows

One efficient way to combat problems in any workplace is to encourage regular performance reviews. This gives an opportunity for workers to reflect on their own performance. The employee needs to communicate what is working for them and what input they would like from their supervisor.

If a problem does come up, try to pinpoint the specific issue where the employee isn’t doing what’s expected of them. Sometimes people just have a bad day, or something happens in their personal lives. Take care to note if the issue was a one-time problem or if it is recurring. Plan on scheduling a meeting and let them know where they stand with the situation. Discuss what has happened that led to this problem.

2. Communication is Essential

Sometimes problems occur because expectations are not clear. Ask your workers open-ended questions and allow them to explain is they misunderstood your instructions. Be prepared on your end with step-by-step directions on the work that needs to be completed, including workflow that requires approvals to move forward.

Be consistent with how you address everyone and how you handle issues with other employees. Giving your undivided attention to the employee and listening closely will help them open up to you and identify the problem.

3. Keep it Professional

Workplace issues have a tendency to get personal—but they really shouldn’t. Stay calm and positive when discussing issues with an employee. Don’t interrupt when the other person is talking and try not to make assumptions about why the issue occurred.

You can also make a bad situation worse by discussing the issue with other employees. This can result in gossip and cause the employee in question to trust you less. Above all, be honest and transparent and remember that the focus is on improving the employee’s performance, not venting your frustrations.

4. Come to a Solution that Works for Everyone

While the ultimate goal is to correct poor performance, be reasonable. If there is a legitimate reason the employee is having trouble, work together to find a solution or compromise. That will increase productivity without adding unnecessary stress or tension.

You can suggest improvements for the employee, but make them specific. Note any misconduct that may have occurred and determine if they need time off or need to make a schedule change. Ask them how you can help for a smooth transition on future performance. For example, if two employees have a conflict, sometimes it is better to give them some time apart, if possible.

5. Disciplinary Action

Oftentimes behavioral issues and poor performance can be corrected with the steps above. Unfortunately, some problems just don’t get resolved. Knowing how and when to take disciplinary action can keep these issues from hampering the rest of your business.

Makes sure you have consistent disciplinary rules in place and that your employees understand what those consequences are. It can also be helpful to keep documentation on all incidents, in case you ever need to reference it.

Ultimately, you should focus on specific behaviors that go against the job responsibilities and make every effort to help the employee improve. However, understand that sometimes it’s beyond your control.

For when you can’t be at every work site, you can use ExakTime to access time & attendance data on any browser-based device. This will help you see which troublesome employees you may need to sit down with to nip a problem in the bud.