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Got a Kenny Kunene in your office? Here's how to tackle insubordination and win

by , 03 July 2013
Negative. Sarcastic. Undermining. We all know the type. Kenny Kunene may be making the news lately, but he's hardly the first of his kind. A charismatic employee can be a huge asset to your business. But if they turn against you, they can be a huge liability. Take these simple steps to deal with insubordination before the 'open letters' start flying...

We've posted about insubordination before, and now it's more important than ever.
An while insubordination can be grounds for dismissal, you can't simply fire someone for having a bad attitude!
What is insubordination?
The Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service says that it's important to understand the subtle differences between insubordination, insolence and disrespect so that when you start collecting evidence for a disciplinary hearing, you'll have all your ducks in a row. 
Here's how to tell the difference:
  • Both employer and employee can show disrespect. Things like raising your voice or swearing at someone shows disrespect.
  • Insubordination is a one-way street. The employee shows insubordination to the employer. Insubordination is a refusal to follow orders.
  • Insolence is the 'attitude problem' that can be so hard to pin down. Kenny Kunene's open letter to Zuma calling him a tyrant (News24) was insolent.
Fight the temptation to 'let it go'
'Well, what's one unpleasant event in the big picture? I'm too busy to deal with this. But if he disobeys me one more time…' This thought might cross your mind, but don't listen to it!
Negativity spreads around the workplace faster than the flu. This affects productivity and creates an unpleasant work environment. Eventually, your reputation and the bottom line will both suffer.
How can you deal with an insubordinate employee?
Follow these steps:
  1. Collect evidence of the insubordination. This includes saving emails and talking to witnesses.
  2. Prove your instruction was reasonable. For example, prove that the request is in their job description, or that any equipment they needed was in working order.
  3. Prove the employee refused to follow the order.
  4. Prove that the employee's insubordination was serious enough to justify dismissal.
With these steps at hand, you can confidently conquer insubordination, and return the workplace to a peaceful and productive place.
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