How to Deal With Nitpicky Employees

Remember, you're the boss, so you can set the tone as you prefer.

Remember, you're the boss, so you can set the tone as you prefer.

There's a fine line between the employee who cares about your business and the one who gets so involved that it starts to work against you. When an employee is nitpicky, it could just mean that she is invested in her work -- but it could also mean that she spends too much time obsessing about even the simplest tasks. Whatever the case, take action now to deal with the issue.

Give the nitpickers a formal time and place to discuss their concerns. Set up a weekly meeting in which workers can talk about their issues and make suggestions for improving the workplace. When workers know they have a time and place to make suggestions, they may be less likely to approach you with their ideas every time you go to the water cooler.

Take a look at the employee's work load to determine whether they have too much or too little to do. An employee may be nitpicking because she doesn't have anything else to do with her work day; in that case, assign her a few new tasks, telling her that you think she's ready for more responsibility. On the flip side, an employee with too much to do may be nitpicking as a cry for help. In that case, delegate some of her responsibilities to allow her to focus on the most important tasks. If her nitpicking is resulting in low productivity -- for example, she's spending too much time on the minutiae of a simple task -- you may need to create a quota system to encourage her to maintain a more productive pace.

Encourage employees to have a life outside of work. Provide workers with discount gym memberships or coupons for yoga classes, or set up group volunteer outings to give workers something to think about besides what happens at the office. In your daily interactions -- and possibly even in your employee manual -- underline the fact that you want your employees to live well-rounded lives that are not solely centered on work.

Be thankful that you have employees who care. Another way to view a nitpicky employee is to say that they're detail oriented, and care enough about their jobs to find ways to improve constantly.

Tip

  • If none of these tactics seem to work, it may be time to talk to the employee directly about the problem. In a private setting, let the employee know that her actions are disruptive to the workplace environment, and then tell her specifically the way you would like her to behave in the office.
 

About the Author

Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.

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