Get advice on how to deal with jerks at work Check out the book 'Jerks At Work' and other titles by Ken Lloyd Ph.D. Return to the homepage Learn more about Ken Lloyd, Ph.D. Submit a question to Ken Lloyd, Ph.D.

You asked, Ken answers ...

This item is filed under these categories:
Insubordination Communication Power Plays and Players Who's In Charge?

I am not sure how to handle an employee who challenges my leadership. He makes negative comments about me to the other employees, and yesterday he flat out refused to carry out an assignment that I gave him. He has a lot of abilities and I don't want to terminate him, but I am unsure what to do.

In most scenarios, when an employee flat out refuses to carry out an assignment, it is not long before that employee is flat out the door. At the same time, it helps to see if there may be any mitigating factors.

The first step is to try to determine your employee's rationale behind his refusal to follow a directive. It is possible that something about the assignment may have been dangerous, unhealthful, or contrary to accepted standards or guidelines. Your employee's explanation in such a case will help you determine your next step.

However, in terms of the bigger picture, this is an employee who has tried to undermine your leadership on numerous occasions, and he apparently has no qualms about speaking maliciously about you to everyone else. This type of behavior is better known as insubordination, and it is also better known as unacceptable.

Your employee should be given some very clear counseling, as well as a clear understanding of the consequences if his antics continue. In a word, if they continue, he will not.

Comment on this item

Your name (optional)
If you leave this blank, we'll list you as "Website visitor"

Your comments
Please keep your comments focused on the topic. Thanks!