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How to deal with difficult software engineers

Sometimes employees operate at a sub-par level. Now there could be a number of reasons why this is the case so first you need to rule out any external (or internal) contributing factors e.g. mental health, physical health, family or personal matters etc.

Assuming you’ve checked on your staff members wellbeing and you’re still not happy with their performance levels then here’s how I approach the situation.

You should never blindside staff with ‘bad’ feedback.

Address performance issues head on

I like to carry out a completely transparent and honest management style so that everyone knows where they stand at all times, this breeds trust in the working relationship. As such you should never blindside people with ‘bad’ feedback, if there’s a performance issue tackle it head on. This enforces your quality standards and potentially nips any future slip-ups in the bud.

If you do need to speak with staff do it privately. A good rule of thumb is to praise in public; criticize in private. Public criticism tends to trigger a defensive reaction and builds disgruntlement between you and the staff. We’re not in school anymore.

Still having issues?

If after you’ve spoken with the employee and if you’re still unhappy or haven’t seen a noteable improvement a next step could be to use a Personal Improvement Plan (PIP).