How to Handle Problem Employees as a Retail Supervisor

by Kristin Swain
Retail supervisors are expected to effectively deal with problem employees before the problem escalates to upper management.

Retail supervisors are expected to effectively deal with problem employees before the problem escalates to upper management.

Retail supervisors are faced with many different challenges, including having to deal with a problem employee who does not meet company expectations in attendance, attitude or work ethic. Problem employees have to be approached by their supervisors in a way that does not compound the issue, but provides an amicable solution and maintains the supervisor's authority.

Step in the Back

Do not attempt to speak to a problem employee on the sales floor. Having a potentially confrontational conversation with an employee in full view could make customers uncomfortable and force them to leave. Handling the situation poorly may also lead to disciplinary action against you by upper management. Step into the back of the store, away from prying eyes and other employees to address the situation with the employee.

Be Authoritative

The key to successfully resolving an issue with a problem employee is to be authoritative without becoming confrontational. Address your employee from a management standpoint and remain calm even if they become angry or upset. Your employee won't respect your position if you appeal to him as a friend or an equal. Express your desire to assist the employee in correcting the problem rather than terminating their employment. Provide logical reasoning for the discussion backed by store policy on the expectations of employee conduct.

Take Disciplinary Action

You may have to take disciplinary action if your problem employee refuses to address his behavior. First make sure the employee is aware of the consequences of his actions and that previously he has been informed of this either in person or in writing. You may also consider having another employee or member of management present to serve as a witness to the notice of disciplinary action to avoid any conflicts in the future. Make sure that you write a letter to the employee detailing the action that is being taken and have him sign the letter to confirm receipt for his employee file.

Keep Records

In the event that your employee complains to upper management or takes legal action against you or the store because of the disciplinary action, make sure that you have paperwork that verifies your motives and actions. Keep records of instances of the individual's problem behavior. Note any time that another employee complains or your employee is asked to cease the problem behavior. Keep copies of any notices of disciplinary action taken against the employee and notes from meetings with upper management where the employee's behavior is discussed. The records that you keep help to validate any disciplinary action you decide to take against the employee, proving that there are no personal motives to your actions.

About the Author

Residing in Los Angeles, Kristin Swain has been a professional writer since 2008. Her experience includes finance, travel, marketing and television. Swain holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication from Georgia State University.

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