Dealing With Difficult Employees – Ignoring Issues Won’t Make Them Go Away!

Dealing with difficult employees

Do you have a difficult employee?

We’ve all been there. Worked with a colleague for whom the normal rules just don’t seem to apply. Their behaviour tolerated because ‘they’ve always been like that!

When it comes to issues or problems, it can be easier to ignore things and make allowances. Perhaps they are brilliant at their job but their personality gets everyone’s back up.

Dealing with difficult behaviour

As a manager how do you deal with previously unchallenged negative behaviours?

Well, ignoring it is not an option! This can lead to other staff being de-moralised, fed up and ultimately leaving you.

It can also lead to a lack of respect for you as a manager if staff see that you are unwilling to tackle the issue.

Ultimately, this can lead to low staff productivity, high absence rates, lost customers and reduced revenue.

Top tips for dealing with difficult employees

Here are some top tips for dealing with that difficult employee:

    • Observe behaviours in the workplace. Make sure you know exactly what is happening. Have examples on hand and get the facts, not just gossip, from other members of staff.
    •  Decide what the employee needs. Once you know what has been happening you will know if this might be extra training to fill a skills or knowledge gap. Dysfunctional behaviour can often be caused by a lack of understanding. Do they need counselling or is it a discipline matter?
    • Decide how you want them to behave at work. You can’t change someone’s personality but you can influence how they behave.
    • With your plan in place its time to speak to them. Focus on the behaviour NOT the person. Agree on a way forward, give examples of how their approach isn’t working and be clear on what changes you need to see.
    • You may need to agree on an amnesty. Draw a line under any previous issues and agree on a positive way forward. Say ‘this is how I need you to be at work’. Have the courage to follow through.
    • Repeat as necessary. This may take a few attempts to get right. Work with your employee to solve the problem. Listen to their side of things, ask open questions and expect emotions to be high if tackling a sensitive issue.
  • Bear in mind that there can be all sorts of explanations for someone’s behaviour. People may need extra support, time off or flexible working arrangements depending on the underlying issue.

This is a difficult conversation but one well worth having.

Avoiding Disciplinary Proceedings

Deal with issues this way before they escalate into full-blown formal disciplinary proceedings. Otherwise, your entire team starts to become dysfunctional.

In the future, always try and have a quiet word at the first sign of trouble.

And if nothing changes? Call me!

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