As a leader, it should always be our primary goal to try to understand people and seek positive solutions to conflict and issues. However, there comes a time when, in order to protect your team, you need to step up and say, "That's enough!"
It only takes one difficult person in a team to significantly change the mood, unity and productivity. Whether you like it or not, if you are the team leader, it is your role to protect your team and enforce boundaries of acceptable conduct and work practice. Here are some tips:
Have Policies and Procedures in Place
It is helpful to have existing policies which outline the company's
expectations of conduct from its employees. There are some issues that are regulated by law and others which reflect the tone that the company desires to create. When people come on board, make sure they are aware of these standards. It will then be easier to approach them in the future if they break these standards.
Also, have a grievance / complaint procedure which doesn't end up with everything being swept under the carpet. There must be real consequences for bad behavior.
Stand by Your Team
It is important for your team to know that you will stand with them when
they face difficult issues or people and that you will endeavor to be fair and consistent in the application of your standards.
Be Firm in Communicating Your Concerns With Those Who are Being Difficult
Use real life examples to support your comments and, if they are open to it, you can offer to support them through some type of coaching as they attempt to change their unhelpful patterns of behavior. Real concerns should be communicated in a calm, yet resolute, way and not watered down.
Have Clear Boundaries of When Serious Action Needs to be Taken
Physical abuse can never be tolerated and people need to know that you will call the police, if necessary. Verbal abuse and threatening gestures must also be taken very seriously.
Be Prepared to Ask Them to Leave the Team
If the problems persist and you have followed the relevant laws for dismissal, then take the next step and ask them to leave. Asking
someone to leave can be a very difficult process, even if you know for certain that it's the right decision and you have tried your best to help them address the issues.
Batten Down the Hatches
The process may not go smoothly. There might be yelling, threats and slammed doors, but at the end of the day this will be replaced by peace and relief and a chance for the team to move on.
Are you protecting your team?
Are there any team members who you need to speak with?