How To Manage A Difficult Employee
In your everyday duties managing your business, you will sometimes have to deal with employees who are difficult to handle. Such staff can drain you emotionally, waste your time and frustrate you if you let them. Here's how to avoid that trap and maybe even help them become better.
1. Have an unbiased conversation.
Good managers don't form conclusions based on hearsay. When an employee is being difficult, the first thing to do is to have an unbiased conversation with them immediately. Resist the urge to be judgmental or accusatory, just listen to what they have to say. Most people aren't difficult just because they want to be, they usually have an unresolved issue provoking a negative reaction from them. Find that issue, resolve it and you'll win them over.
2. Always speak to other staff.
Gathering facts is not a one-track activity. Your other staff see things, hear things and could know more about the situation than you do. Speak to them about the difficult employee. Ask them if they have observed any negative change in behaviour and what could be responsible for it. Again, it is important to be unbiased. Never come across as blaming the employee or looking for reasons to discipline them. Instead, make it clear that you're looking for ways to improve the situation.
3. Take note.
Whenever an employee behaves inappropriately, take an actual note of the incident. Documenting negative behaviour is not for you to nurse grudges or plot a revenge. Notes are important for guiding staff appraisals and future decisions. They can also be used as proof that certain incidents did occur, particularly when a difficult employee denies ever being difficult.
4. Set standards, rules and disciplinary actions.
Leading your business means it's up to you to set standards of behaviour and enforce rules with appropriate penalties. Your employees must always be aware that there are clear expectations of them, a right way of doing things and disciplinary action for behaving otherwise. Don't leave them in doubt by being inconsistent with enforcing rules.
5. Take action.
Some difficult employees cannot be converted by a simple conversation. In such instances, you need to take action immediately. Possible actions include counselling, a formal reprimand, a penalty (such as unpaid suspension) or outright firing. Whatever action you decide to take, be sure that the employee knows why and how you reached your decision. Never let sentiment cloud your judgement, move forward with your decision quickly.
How have you dealt with a difficult employee in the past? Post your tip in the comments section below or send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you.