Managing Difficult Employees

Managing Difficult Employees

19 October 2017

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If life were perfect, we would always be tasked with the management of willing and eager employees, who sail through their careers dutifully, without issue or flaw. However, real life is far from perfect and, at some point in your leadership experience, you may well be tasked with dealing with employees who are making life difficult.

Owing to attitude, work ethic or relationships with colleagues, you may often come across employees who don’t make your day-to-day run as smoothly as you would like. So, how do you manage difficult employees to avoid situations bubbling over? You can’t risk good members of staff for those who are making things miserable. How do you deal with things firmly but fairly and stamp out any negativity?

Here are just some ideas when it comes to working with difficult employees:

Set clear boundaries

Make sure that your employees are aware of what you will tolerate and what you will not. From the start of your leadership career, set clear boundaries – and stick to them. It’s important that your employees know that there are consequences for not behaving properly in the workplace.

Try to understand

If your employees claim to be acting out owing to workplace difficulties, offer an empathetic ear to their problems. If you can, put together an improvement plan so that any perceived obstacles can be overcome fairly, giving the employee an opportunity to improve their behaviour.

Stay calm

Whilst some situations can become very heated, very quickly, it is important that, as a leader, you are always seen to be calm and collected in difficult circumstances. Remain a firm but fair voice that offers impartial help to all sides of the story. Don’t allow yourself to get caught up in “he said, she said” and remain cool under pressure.

Manage expectations

One of the most common causes of workplace frustrations is a lack of clarity with expectations, causing frustration and resentment to bubble away under the surface. This can be toxic. Ensure that your employees are clear about their career path and your expectations of their work. Repeat this as often as necessary in order to avoid any negative behaviour.

Encourage dialogue

If there is conflict between your employees, encourage an open and honest dialogue that will maintain the values and expectations of your company (i.e. don’t allow it to become a shouting match). Communication is key to solving any workplace issues. If it is necessary to involve the HR department, then do so.

Acknowledge positive change

Even if there have been difficult times in the past, it is important to acknowledge when an employee has made positive steps towards changed behaviour. By focusing on the positive change, it will encourage the employee in question to keep it up and maintain a better outlook.

If you would like to speak to me about leadership, or pursuing the next step in your career, I would be delighted to have a confidential chat with you. Click here to see my details and get in touch.




Written By Barry Lee


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