How To Deal With Difficult Employees

Staff management could be really enjoying if there are no difficult employees and some other thorny situations. Well, that’s why it’s a workplace. Challenges must be solved and difficult people at work managed. However, some employees difficult to manage can constitute more stress and won’t stop disappointing your style of management. Dealing with difficult workers in that category requires extra measures and strategies to avert burnout and grave negative impact in the entire organization.

Toxic behaviors include double standards, gossip, belittling comments, taking credits of the work of others and yelling at colleagues. Difficult workers are also a major source of workplace conflict. This may manifest as a result of their preferred method of discharging duties or interaction modality.  A difficult employee could be passive-aggressive, psychopath, narcissist, etc.

Here is how smart managers deal with difficult employees –

Q&A about annoying co-worker

Make your corporate policies and procedures clear

Difficult employees may use ignorance of the company’s policies as excuses for their behaviors. Hence, regularly updating the policies and highlighting them will curtail these excuses and provide a basis for discipline. After proper education, refer employees who need further clarification concerning the policies to the HR.

Define individual expectations

Organizations have expectations for their employees. To effectively deal with difficult people at work, communicate to them in clear terms what these expectations are. Nothing is better left to chance. Time should be taken to explain and give detail expectations to all. The yardstick for measuring progress should also be outlined. This will go a long way in bridging the gap beyond the employee behavior and the company’s expectation.

Talk to the employee in private and observe

Discussing problematic issues is often a challenge for some managers. That should not apply here. Managers should schedule a time to discuss with difficult workers where other employees are absent. Dealing with difficult employees, in the presence of another difficult coworker can encourage them.  In making it private, you avoid a huge negative impact on other employees as well as bring confidentiality to the issue. However, this needs to be a two-way flow. As much as there is a need for the employee to explain themselves, you should be ready to listen. This is to ensure that the real root of the discord is identified and settled.

Document their behaviors

While dealing with difficult employees, please endeavor to document every discordant behavior for reference purpose. Your record should include date and time and properly filed in your archives. Aside from helping in follow-ups, it will also serve as valid evidence if the issue escalates beyond your office.

Also read: 4 Signs You Are The Difficult Coworker

Managers must encounter difficult employees at some point. What would matter is how they effectively manage the workplace incivility to prevent extensive damages which may include the organizational culture. Setting clear expectations and policies is very crucial in dealing with difficult people. Also, managers must be sincere with their approach in dealing with these employees.

Priyansha Mistry
Currently editor at The HR Digest Magazine. She helps HR professionals identify issues with their talent management and employment law. | Priyansha tweets at @PriyanshaMistry

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