Fixer: Errant employee says he’s a scapegoat

26 Apr 2018 By PM Editorial

How can I manage my defensive staff member?

We have a staff member I’d describe as very full of himself. He won’t write weekly reports, speaks disrespectfully to his line manager and won’t accept criticism when things go wrong. I spoke to him in a 1:1 about several mistakes he’s made over a series of weeks, and he blamed the rest of the team. Now, if he gets negative feedback about his work he puts in a complaint against me, claiming he’s being ‘over managed’ or targeted because he’s gay. What can I do?

It’s not unusual for an under-performing employee to say others are to blame, or to claim that they are being unfairly targeted. To deal with this, you need to gather documentary evidence of his errors – which you have probably already done – and open a dialogue with his colleagues to look at what has really happened.

The effect of this will be twofold: it will be invaluable if you later need to begin a performance management process, but equally importantly it will show this employee that if he tries to hide behind his colleagues you are prepared to call him out.

You must be certain that he is not being targeted because of his sexuality – if he is, that puts a different complexion on proceedings. You should also be confident that his managers are giving him clear instructions and expectations around processes and procedures. But if you’re satisfied that everything is in order, your role is to draw a clear line under this behaviour before it escalates.

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