This can be a tricky problem to tackle but it is obviously not something that firms can afford to ignore, especially in a small firm with tight-knit teams.
These problems tend to come to a head if an employee is regularly being rude, uncooperative or generally difficult to deal with. Such behaviour will inevitably have an impact on colleagues and can quickly lead to an uncomfortable atmosphere.
The first step is to arrange for an informal meeting to discuss the situation with the employee in question.
It is important to be prepared so prior to the meeting you should gather details about the problem, including specific examples of unreasonable behaviour. Also, make a list of the particular difficulties that this is causing your business.
You should approach the meeting in a calm and diplomatic way. Make it clear that, while you have concerns about the effect their behaviour is having, you are also concerned about them – do they have any problems you should be aware of?
If there is an underlying reason for the individual’s actions, for example, difficulties at home, health issues or problems dealing with their workload, you can obviously look at ways to help them.
Conversely they may deny that there is a problem with the way they are behaving. In these circumstances you need to return to the examples you have already listed and gently but firmly, press them to discuss the specific incidents. Reiterate the ways in which they are causing problems.
While an employee should be offered the chance to improve once the issue has been raised, you may also offer a polite reminder that if there is no tangible change then you may have to consider the option of disciplinary proceedings.