I have been managing a small team of engineers for some months and one of the employees is being very difficult to deal with. This difficulty has been confirmed by both HR and his manager before me.
I had multiple talks with the employee about mainly behavioral issues: lack of teamwork, going with his own plan, performance lower than expected, not owning up to his mistakes, forgetting to fill timesheets, etc.
Since I gave him feedback, he started improving, and I hope that he will keep it up so that he can meet the expectations. I'm trying to stay as positive as possible, since HR and his previous manager warned me that this could be a temporary improvement effort.
But the main issue that bothers me is about lying. I have the strong feeling that he is constantly lying to me (without even the need for it).
Some lies are easy to prove, and I have already addressed them with him.
But unfortunately there are many other lies that are very hard to prove, hence the "feeling". He always says something vague such that at a later time he can always deny with "I didn't mean that". Indeed, HR (again) warned me that he knows how to use his words, and that he can be deceitful in order to meet his own agenda (HR's words, not mine).
And unfortunately this is also what I have experienced with him. I gave him the benefit of the doubt multiple times, but now it is honestly enough.
My question is then: how should I address this with him in our next one-on-one meeting?
Perhaps I did a mistake somewhere, and I want to correct that. To this aim, I asked him many times to give me feedback, and I've also recently added this as part of his targets (in agreement with him). But so far, nothing happened about this.
To add some context:
I am in a country where it is very difficult to fire somebody, and it is quite a hassle to go through this process. The company is small, there is a lack of engineers in the area, and technically he is quite good.
Therefore, together with the fact that he is coming from a different country with quite some cultural and work differences, he has been given the benefit of the doubt.
To clarify the "vague" lies with an example: he said that he didn't notice one "thing", but I don't agree with this since it is extremely difficult to miss this "thing" for different reasons. The problem here is to prove that "extremely difficult" equals to "impossible". If this is not possible, the vagueness arises.