A rogue employee is usually someone with a degree of authority within your organisation, whose actions are quite capable of destabilising your team and affecting your business.

How to handle a rogue employee

We’ve all run across them, either as employers having to deal with their undermining of your authority, or as employees having to avoid being manipulated by them. They believe they are smarter than the employer and work to seed discontent in your workforce.

When you become aware that you have a rogue on your team, you need to make a decision. Will you move them on, out of your business or will you try and manage them, to hopefully adjust their attitude? Are they likely to become severely disruptive – for instance, passing on your commercial secrets? Or are they just someone who is always discontented, sly but not likely to resort to criminal or unethical activities? Make sure you make the decision that is best for your company. Often employers will put up with a rogue employee because they are talented or have unique skills, so they prevaricate about addressing the problem.

If you decide on the attitude adjustment, then the first thing you need to examine is whether someone – yourself or their direct manager – is holding them accountable for what they are supposed to be contributing. Chances are that’s a no. And that needs to be addressed.

But first you need to confront them, let them know that you are aware of their
behaviour. See if you can find out why they are behaving this way. There’s always a reason, but it’s not easy to find out if they aren’t prepared to share.

At the end of the day, you can’t help them if they won’t share, and so you then bring in the control. Re-visit the position description, set KPI’s and review them regularly. Be clear about their responsibilities and expectations – not only with your rogue but with the rest of the team. If they see that the outlaw is not doing what is expected, then the ability to manipulate team members into rebelling is significantly diminished.

Throughout all of this process, ensure you keep comprehensive notes on all your actions and the interactions with the employee.

If you decide that moving the employee on is the only way, then you need to get advice as to how you can do this within the Fairwork framework, so that it is not an Unfair Dismissal. Your notetaking will be very valuable in proving that you have tried to resolve the problem in a fair and equitable manner.

My final piece of advice is don’t ever delay taking action when you feel you have a disenfranchised employee. The damage they can do is significant.