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How to Deal With Employees Who Don’t Follow Instructions

Almost every business owner and manager must have encountered employees who consistently disregard or fail to follow instructions. Note that these workers always find excuses, skip deadlines, and seem to rightly ignore directives and procedures. Even the most experienced leaders can find managing this sort of employee challenging.

When employees fail to follow instructions, it becomes an act of insubordination. Note that an employee can refuse to carry out an instruction quietly or openly challenge the manager’s instructions, or show negative body language. Insubordination is a very dangerous behavior that can get worse if not stopped.

How to Deal With Employees Who Don’t Follow Instructions

There are several ways to deal with employees who don’t follow instructions. They include;

  1. Talk in Private

A good number of the problems in a team can be resolved with a simple conversation in private. During these conversations, you can find out in a better tone what the problem is and what your subordinate is dissatisfied with. You can both find solutions to the problem together, and, at the very least, prove yourself to be a wise, compassionate leader who genuinely cares about their subordinates.

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It is also critical that you watch and choose the right tone of the conversation, and walk the fine line. Have it in mind that you can be right but your tone and approach make you wrong.

Always remember that you are neither a teacher nor a judge; you are both the leader, and conductor. Ensure to prepare very well for this conversation in advance. The time you invest in preparing for that will give you a massive advantage in the conversation.

  1. Play Your Role as a Boss

Have in mind that your role as a boss is to guide and direct your team. Just as it was noted above, you are neither their parent nor a dictator; rather you are a leader and it is not your job to make them do anything. Always remember that your job is to make available instructions and assistance and then to hold your employees accountable.

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Note that your sole focus should be on making sure you are creating a healthy, positive environment and doing everything you can to help your employees attain success. If you find there are things you could improve on (communicating more clearly, ensuring a realistic workload, etc.), then you should do that.

  1. Address Issues Early

If an employee fails to follow directions on something, avoid jumping to conclusions. First, reach out to them and ask what happened. Have it in mind that they could have a good reason – maybe they misunderstood or need more training – and you asking to hear their own side of things will help engineer trust.

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On the other hand, it could also spell out an issue, in which case it becomes very necessary to address the issue before it manifests into something more serious or something detrimental to your company.

  1. Make Them Understand The Effect Of Their Conduct

Most often, disrespectful employees do not really know that what they are doing is wrong and the repercussions that come with it. But in certain situations, they know, and just don’t care. Owing to that, it is recommended you be firm and consistent with all your employees as you cannot afford to send mixed messages. Let them know that there are consequences for their actions and failure to follow your instructions.

  1. Set Boundaries And Enforce Consequences

As a business owner or manager, it is necessary you set the boundaries and enforce the consequences of not following instructions. When there is no consequence for undesirable behaviors, employees will continue misbehaving. Ensure to create very vivid performance expectations by making your employees understand the process they are expected to follow in doing their work.

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Also, remember to provide instructions wherever possible and stay consistent so that there are no misunderstandings later on down the line. Note that if the consequences are painful, they will want to avoid them.

  1. Note The Root Cause Of The Issue

Always remember to stay in command and courteous when speaking to your employee. However, you will also want to ensure that you get your point across in an effective manner. If they leave the private meeting without fully comprehending the situation and the solution, then the entire discussion was void.

Owing to that, ensure you discover the root cause of the issue. Here are some of the reasons why people fail to follow instructions:

  • The instructions are complicated
  • There’s no engagement among employees
  • There’s no proper leadership
  • They don’t believe in the process
  • There’s no proper training or communication
  • They don’t feel the gravity of the consequences
  1. Maintain Perspective On What Issues Are Actually “Issues”

Truth be told, when employees are known for constantly not following directions, it is easy to start focusing intensely on each and every time it happens. With time it begins to feel personal – like they are intentionally going against you to spite you – so you get disgusted each time they don’t do exactly what you said.

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As a leader, it is very important that you avoid this. Note that when it gets to this stage, it becomes very challenging to have clarity on what to do about it because you are more or less tangled in the weeds of it.

In addition, you probably aren’t like that with your other employees, so over-exacting makes it possible for employees to say you are treating them differently. Always remember that your aim is to maintain perspective on what’s really important.

  1. Fire Them

This is, without doubt, the last action to take especially since it is not always the most effective one. You will only have to consider this option in very extreme cases, or when the employee has completely lost touch with reality and nothing else can be done to remedy the situation.

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Ask yourself first, have I done everything within my power to ensure they change or make the employer carry out the instructions? Do you require his or her expertise; do you need his or her professionalism to attain certain objectives? Will his resignation make you look more authoritative among the team?

From the answers or replies you get from these questions, you will know if it is the right or wrong move to fire them. Managing employees who repeatedly don’t follow instructions can be really frustrating.

No one is asking you to keep your team in a constant state of terror, but it’s better to create well-stipulated boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed. Note that by addressing situations promptly, focusing on the key issues, and holding employees accountable, you’ll be able to keep this negative behavior from getting out of hand.