How To Handle A Hot-Headed Employee


From original questioner:

How do you guys deal with a long term employee who is hot headed. I have a very good employee who is reliable, good at what he does, etc. but he has a short fuse when he works with other employees who are stronger personalities. In this employee market I can't really afford to lose him but need some way to keep him from disrupting other employees. It just causes tension in the shop.

From contributor Jo

What I do in a situation like that is have a closed door meeting with the hot-head and tell him face to face, what I object to and how it is affecting the other workers and the plant overall. Don't back down and absolutely don't let him give you excuses for his behavior. It doesn't matter what "set him off", his behavior is his own and only he can do something about it.

You need to set parameters around what is acceptable behavior and what is not. These pertain to everyone, not just the person in question. And you need to communicate the consequences of not abiding by the rules; and be specific!

My final rule in a case like this will always end with "termination" if the employee can't behave after several warnings. Anything less and you will lose control of your shop floor. You are the boss, be one. I'm sure there are more than a few people who are waiting for you to "do something about this guy".

I know that good people are hard to find these days, but I don't consider someone who causes delays, confusion and/or hard feelings on the shop floor to be a "good" employee.

One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch. Give him direct, prompt and consistent feedback. Hold him to your shop floor rules of behavior and if he can't abide by them, then you are better off without him.

From contributor Pu

I have been there.

What surprised me was how much better the work got done without the person that I thought couldn't be lost. Everyone's attitude improved because no one was worried about the one employee going off the deep end again. The tension was gone when they were gone and we didn't realize how much tension that we had when he was here.

Follow the advice from above but do not let this person hold you hostage in your own business.

From contributor ja

Threat him him with write up? Sounds like he is too comfortable. I would just work him until he quit.

From contributor Za

I agree with John S. There is also an opportunity if he doesn't get it to give him an unpaid suspension as a warning to let him know that you're serious.

At some point though, if he keeps it up you're going to loose more good employees then just him. Other potential good employees will hear word, or see for themselves when they first start and leave promptly so they don't have to deal with it.

You have to confront him.

From contributor ca

Imagine walking on across a room with just the floor joists in place, no plywood sheathing in place at all.

It can be done but you have move slowly and be very deliberative about your motions. For your crew working with this prima donna is like walking across that floor.

Lose the guy. He's not as important as you think. The rest of the crew will appreciate it and step up as a consequence.

From contributor Ri

"employees who are stronger personalities"? So are they throwing their weight around, without knowing all the they need to dial it back?

From contributor Th

Dan, I agree with John. You have to address the situation. One thing you should always do though, is make sure you document the session when you address the employee. You should also have the employee sign a briefing of what was addressed to show that you have dealt with him, or her, concerning the matter. If it persist and you have been documenting the progression then you strengthen your position if it should have to terminate the employee and it comes to some form of litigation.

From contributor Ra

My experience just like Puzzleman, situation likely will not change. You will do yourself, your employees and this employee a favor by asking him to move on.

From contributor Ma

I am that hot headed employee.

Not Dan's, but the same type of guy he describes.
How come no one here( besides Rick) has asked "What is he getting upset about?"

For me is was lack of any respect for the work I set up- if another person was to produce materials/operations for a job I was in charge of, I usually got it late or different from what I asked for. And rarely was I able to get it re-done. Anybody could make changes to my work it seemed and I was to just deal with it.

For me it was a complete lack of respect for the time line i was trying to keep- if it ran over, it ran over. After all, I was the only one who had to answer for it.

For me, no one gave a damn for the quality of work I tried to produce - hey it's not their work, right? I spent more than a few evenings and weekends re-doing door fit ups, sand throughs, and re-finishing. And this was by people I knew could do fine work, one of them world class.

Complain to the Boss? No, then I was just bitchin'. Boss stayed out of the floor dynamic. And more than once I was blasted by a customer for being late, because I was the 'lead man'.

Look, the money was good- $25 pr hr- and I did get to do some fine work, but I got to where I had to put my hands on everything and bust my ass to get things made.

I complained to the Boss for the last time when he decided that a phone message from my wife wasn't important enough to deliver to me-after all, he had to walk onto the shop floor. I won't repeat the following conversation....

So, whats your guy mad about?

From contributor Da

Don't think it matters. I approached him and told him that I was having a meeting with him and another employee after I got back from a meeting. After I left he blew up, walked, out and I haven't heard from him since.

From contributor Da

In the end it is probably for the best as the tension it creates is just too much. Sometimes you just have two bulls in the same pen.