Managing The Difficult Employee

9 11 2011

Every manager will have a difficult employee- it is inevitable. There will always be difficult employees. It is your job as the manager to deal with them. Terminating a difficult employee may, at times, be the easy way out. It is normal that nobody wants to work with these people, but there are more proactive ways to handle the situation.

We want to assume that some people are just naturally difficult no matter what situation they put themselves in. They show up late, perform at a minimal level, have a hard time achieving deadlines, and leave early, with an excuse for each fault. They make themselves easy to recognize.

The key as a manager is to not let the problem lower productivity, raise frustration, or bring down the morale of the team.

How to approach these employees:

1) Don’t ignore the problem. As long as the employee brings value to the organization and has the qualities to be good performer, there are ways to deal with difficult employees. A manager must realize that the problems do not just go away. There must be action taken.

2) Intervene as soon as possible. Taking action as soon as the problem arises will prevent it from escalating. At times, the employee doesn’t even know that their behavior is affecting others. It happens when other employees put up with the behavior and ignore it, as if it is just a normal nuisance in the workplace. Employees tend to be reluctant when a problem arises. It is the manager’s responsibility to take the appropriate action to correct the problem.

3) Research the problem. The manager needs to ask the employee if they are aware of any behavioral or performance problems. The manager then needs to identify the unacceptable behavior in a way that is productive. It is not beneficial to anyone to be condescending and blaming, but rather clear and encouraging.

4) Help the employee get on the right track. Encouraging the correct behaviors and leading by example are ways to coach the employee. It is a difficult process and they need to practice the acceptable and appropriate behaviors in the workplace. It is not a quick fix, so it requires patience and feedback throughout the process.

5) Terminate if necessary. If the employee is not able to adjust, termination may be appropriate. It may be that the employee does not fit in the organization or in that environment. It is beneficial for you and for the employee to identify the misfit. Not doing so is harmful to the difficult employee, other employees in the organization and the overall productivity and the success of the team.

It is the overall responsibility of the manager to act on employees that may cause harm to the team. It is important to encourage and assist employees to get on the right track. Good management can help employees grow in positive ways.

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