Managing Misfits

by Marsha Petrie Sue, MBA

mis·fit, noun – a person whose behavior or attitude sets them apart from others in an uncomfortably conspicuous way.


Polish up your communication skills and get ready to manage these people who rob you and the team of time and energy. Here are the top four problems currently seen in the workplace. They come in the form of egotists, chronically absent, skill gap and time wasters.


Issue: Employee or co-workers who think of themselves as indispensable and have a superior attitude. Their untouchable attitude is upsetting and will lower morale unless the manager addresses this off-putting behavior. Rules don’t apply to them and they will alienate others forcing the group to work in silo.

  • Review their job description and include soft skills such as collaboration, inclusiveness, communication, and building the team. Share the rewards of being successful and ask them what the consequences should be if not achieved.
  • Ask them how they think they are perceived. Consider doing a 360 assessment, asking the work group to anonymously complete and return the summary.
  • Determine goals from the results of the 360, defining the blind spots.
  • Give them more responsibility. These are typically bright people. They want to be challenged.

managing-misfits2017-03-29 12.16.30Absenteeism

Issue: Employee is constantly tardy or frequently absent hurting the productivity of the team and missing deadlines.

  • Have the team develop general office ground rules including expectation of when people should arrive and depart each work day.  Discuss the consequences if continual absenteeism or tardiness is recorded.
  • Have a conversation individually reviewing the impact of the constant absence or tardiness on co-workers, production, morale, etc. Do they realize termination can be a result of continued tardiness and absenteeism? And you have to make sure you are ready to let them go.
  • Be sure to have iron clad documentation that, if appropriate, is shared with Human Resources. Bad behavior has consequences.
  • Know your employees and understand their personal issues. Understand there are laws giving people legal rights to take leave for personal, medical, and/or family issues.

Skills Gap

Issue: The job duties and responsibilities are a mismatch with the employee.

  • Have a private meeting with the employee and ask them how they feel about whether their skills line up with the job responsibilities. Communicate your concerns, listen closely and ask questions. Jointly determine the blind spots and discuss options.
    • Cross train or retrain for the current position
    • Is there a job they see that is better suited for them?
    • Can their skills transition to another department?
    • Would they be happier elsewhere?

Time Wasters

Issue: Employee spends too much time on social media, making personal calls, playing games and generally wasting time.

  • Ask the Time Waster to complete a time log for 5 days. This will be to determine where their skills are best matched. They may not know how to do the job. Listen carefully.
  • Suggest they refresh their time management skills.  (Please email me for the 10 Time Management Tips to give to them
  • Bring the company policy. Be direct. Emphasize that this is like stealing directly from the company’s profits. Consider doing this with your entire group.
  • Follow up.

Do you have any other ideas on how to manage these misfits?  Would love to hear from you.

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *