Despite the dedication of a business owner or manager to managing employees well, there are occasions when insubordination occurs. The problem can lie with a single difficult worker or the acts can be widespread. Either case must be dealt with promptly so the relationship between supervisors and staff members remains mutually respectful and beneficial.

Inappropriate Language

The use of inappropriate language directly or in reference to you as a manager constitutes insubordination. You should put some distance between the employee and yourself for a short time following a worker cursing you, using vulgar language, speaking sarcastically or shouting. When an employee chooses to address you in any of these manners, it is because he is upset and not thinking clearly. After a respite, calmly ask the employee to join you in a private discussion in which you can attempt to work through the problem.

Silent Treatment

Giving you the "cold shoulder" by ignoring your presence and refusing to speak except when necessary is a form of unacceptable employee behavior. Ignoring this silent treatment might be all that is necessary in most cases. Generally, after a period of time, the staff member will stop shutting you out and begin to communicate again. If the behavior continues for an inordinately long time, you should ask the employee to share her concerns. Should she refuse to discuss the matter, you might be successful in approaching one of her peers. Often an employee who refuses to talk with you will share her concern with a co-worker. Once you determine the reason for her behavior, you can help address it.

Defying Management Directives

You expect your directives to be followed by your employees, and when a worker disregards your instructions, you should be concerned. You can often remedy the situation by explaining to the unresponsive individual why you gave a particular task, offer additional instruction on how to complete the work and express your appreciation of his cooperation. Generally, this will motivate the employee to follow your directions. If not, you need to issue a written warning, which shows the employee you are serious about his lack of regard for your directives and that you will enact further consequences should the insubordination continue.

Intimidation and Harassment

Verbal or physical aggression by an employee toward you is insubordination for which you must show zero tolerance. An immediate suspension of duties is required in cases of spoken threats or harassment. The length of the suspension should be commensurate with the level of the offense. For example, a promise to "turn other employees against you" merits a shorter suspension than a more intimidating statement. Any act of physical violence or threat of such should be grounds for immediate termination. Call the police to report the incident and consider investing in security systems and hiring trained security personnel to protect you and your business.