John Deere recently settled with a former employee, to the tune of $275,000, regarding allegations in a whistleblower lawsuit. According to the news report, the lawsuit claimed a pipefitter was fired from Deere's Moline facility in 2012 after reporting unsafe working conditions and the company's failure to correct one of the safety problems.

Deere did not admit liability in the case, but the company has agreed to pay the former employee back wages and damages.

You may not ever face a situation this extreme, but every employer has a disgruntled employee every now and then. A business expert outlines these 6 steps for dealing with disgruntled employees in an article:

  1. Assess the situation thoroughly — and objectively.
  2. Don’t wait. The situation may not resolve itself.
  3. Privacy is key when dealing with an employee’s concerns and encouraging them to speak clearly.
  4. Cool is the best temperament when dealing with conflict.
  5. It takes time to fix problems. Make sure to monitor and communicate progress.
  6. Keep records. Those records of discussions and actions could be vital if an employee decides to take legal action.

Employers face another challenge with disgruntled employees. Sometimes, you don’t even know they are disgruntled. Many people hate conflict and will avoid confrontation. They may continue to work, unhappily, in silence or they may leave for another job.

In both situations, you lose out on the opportunity to learn of an issue at your dealership and to involve employees as you resolve it. It’s true that many employee issues can be about petty things or personality conflicts, but as the John Deere case proved, there could be a much larger issue lurking at your dealership.

Take some time this year to seek out those hidden or wannabe whistleblowers at your dealership. Guard against being defensive when they share what’s bothering them. Remember, it’s often small changes that can bring about lasting improvements. And, don’t feel like you have to resolve everything on your own. Encourage those disgruntled employees to be part of the solution. Your dealership will be stronger for it.

All of us at Rural Lifestyle Dealer wish you happiness and prosperity in the New Year.