Dealing with employee insubordination is a difficult task. If left unchecked, it can snowball into a major problem that affects more than just one employee. As other employees see the insubordinate employee “getting away” with being insubordinate, they become more inclined to behave in that manner as well. And you know what happens next . . . morale and productivity drops dramatically. To stop this from happening, you must recognize these five early warning signs of employee insubordination.The First Early Warning Sign of Employee Insubordination: DishonestyA lack of honesty is the first warning sign of employee insubordination. You may catch the employee in a couple “white lies” that are not a big deal at first. What you may not realize is that these white lies are the employee’s way of testing you. If you don’t call the employee to the table for telling these little white lies, he or she thinks it is acceptable to lie to you and that it is easy to get away with telling stories. Before you know it, these lies will escalate to major lies that disrupt the efficiency of your business. The Second Early Warning Sign of Employee Insubordination: IncompetenceAn employee that is incompetent, whether real or feigned, may present problems down the road. As with the dishonest employee, an employee that pretends to not understand the job requirements is already trying to see how little he or she can get away with. For the employee that is genuinely incapable, he or she can easily become an insubordinate employee – even if it is unintentional. Therefore, you should watch for an employee that has difficulty concentrating or following directions, as this employee may develop into a major problem for you and your business. Other signs that you have an incompetent employee on your hands include a decrease in productivity with an increase in the number of mistakes or an employee that has frequent memory lapses.The Third Early Warning Sign of Employee Insubordination: Reluctance to ChangeAnother early warning sign of employee insubordination is an unwillingness or general reluctance to change. An employee that is unwilling to change his or her work habits is likely to develop a negative attitude. How do you recognize an employee with this reluctance? This employee may have negative conversations with other employees or may often overreact to problems or issues that you discuss. The employee may also get flustered easily, have strained relationships with other employees, or may have irritable outbursts while on-the-job.The Fourth Early Warning Sign of Employee Insubordination: Lack of DependabilityA person that fails to complete the duties you have assigned to him or her is also presenting early signs of employee insubordination. This lack of dependability may even be purposeful as the employee intentionally slows down on production to “get back” at you or to try to show dominance. Even an employee that is honestly undependable is still a problem, as the result is the same either way: the work they need to do is not getting done. A telltale sign of an employee that is not dependable is poor attendance. The Fifth Early Warning Sign of Employee Insubordination: ApathyAn employee that is apathetic is also a candidate for employee insubordination. Employees that are not engaged in their job are less likely to work to their fullest potential. They are also more likely to slack off on their duties and to fail to comply with your directives. Signs of an employee that is apathetic include withdrawing from other employees and being physically but not mentally present at work.What to Do about Employee Insubordination?If you have an employee that exhibits any of these early warning signs of insubordination, here’s how to stop the problem before it gets worse. First put your employee into progressive discipline. Start a formal documentation procedure and give consistent feedback to the employee. Give them every opportunity to improve. If progressive discipline doesn’t have an effect on the employee’s behavior, then you must fire this individual. Otherwise the employee will destroy the morale and productivity of your workforce. So keep a vigilant eye out for the 5 early warning signs of employee insubordination and tackle any potential problems before they ruin your workplace.

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