How to Deal With Difficult Employees and Keep Your Sanity

Many facets of being a manager can be gratifying and enjoyable, but managing various personalities, especially those of difficult staff members, can be stressful and even feel isolating.

But, it must be done. The negative effects from just one difficult employee can impact your entire team, and there are numerous kinds of difficult employees, including employees who don’t take direction, those who challenge every decision, employees who don’t meet deadlines and those with a toxic attitude.

Regardless of whatever kind of difficult employee you have on your hands, you need this person to be professional and do their job. Therefore, it’s essential to pick out the root cause of an employee’s issues and deal with it. Consider this strategy for how to take care of difficult employees.

Write down specific examples of bad behavior

It is absolutely vital to record the difficult worker’s inappropriate behavior. Document each instance in writing as it occurs, including the time and date of the incident. You need to have records of the poor performance or bad habits to both resolve the issue with the employee and ensure support from HR.

Connect behavior to performance gaps

Figure out what the result of the bad behavior is from a business point of view, and what you need from your worker to meet company expectations. This may require reviews of the employee’s job description and previous performance reviews.

It is also crucial to know company policies and the guidelines given to staff members. If you have any questions about policies and procedures, consult HR for clarification.

Take a deep breath

Before you confront a difficult employee, ensure you’re in the proper mindset. Handling a difficult staff member can be complicated and stressful. It’s normal for emotions to run high, and intense confrontation can even make you question your judgment and approach.

Talk to the employee privately and listen to what they say

When talking privately with the employee, be transparent about how certain behaviors are adversely impacting productivity and the team. Refer to documented examples of bad behavior and don’t make the conversation about the employee as a person.

The conversation must also be a two-way street. This is your chance to hear about what may be causing the problem. Listen diligently to what your worker has to say. There may be genuine issues that are affecting your employee and need addressing.

Talking about performance issues is often difficult for the manager and unsettling for the worker. If your staff member becomes agitated, provide them with time and space to process the conversation and arrange a follow-up.

Put clear expectations in writing

Explain to the employee what is necessary moving forward by detailing clear expectations, timelines for improvement and ways of measuring progress. Also ensure the worker is aware of what the next steps are and the repercussions of not turning things around.

At Labor Temps, we regularly assist company leaders with all kinds of human resources issues. Please contact us today to find out how we can help your organization.