Managing Difficult Employees

January 23, 2015 10:21 am Published by

Managing difficult employees effectively can be very difficult.

Whether they’re consistently late, someone who complains incessantly or who seems to constantly cause conflict with their co-workers, every company must deal with difficult employees.

These situations often drain your time and energy, impact on the morale of co-workers (and your own morale, especially in a small family business) and interfere with overall workplace productivity. The secret to effectively addressing situations like this starts with understanding and clearly identifying the root causes/issues.

Even the best employee can have an off-day (or week, or month…).

Before you decide an employee is “difficult”, you need to try and step back and neutrally assess the situation (this can be difficult, especially in a small business).

The first question you need to ask is: is the behaviour critical enough to implement a formal process. It’s really important to remember that ‘different’ does not equal ‘difficult’. There will always be employees that you or a manager do not get on with, understand or even like. This is not enough to deem an employee difficult, though… to be classed as a “difficult employee”, their behaviour must exceed acceptable standards, policies/procedures or interfere with productivity.

Defining The Problem

When addressing problems created by difficult employees, the focus should always be on job performance – which is extremely difficult in a small business but for the greater good of your business you must focus on keeping it professional. It is the management’s duty to clearly outline and explain why the issue is a problem, and how the problem is adversely impacting the company. At this stage it will probably be extremely useful to refer to the employee’s job description/company handbook.

Clarify Roles

It’s important that both you (or their manager) and employee are absolutely clear on their individual roles. Yours / the manager’s role is to ensure business success by providing direction, coaching and supporting employees. The employee’s role is to meet performance and behaviour standards as defined in their job description/contract, and function as a cooperative team member. A key concept that employees must grasp (and this is so very important in a small, family run business) is that it’s not only their level of their performance that is important, but also how their performance affects their team/department and the company overall.

Identify Expectations
Identifying and managing expectations is extremely important when managing difficult employees. You/their manager should clarify four things – their performance, responsibilities, impact of their behaviour and the consequences if it doesn’t change. A follow up and ongoing review should be scheduled and regular updates between the manager and the employee will help to move things forward and get the employee back on track

If you need more help/advice on this, we specialist in providing help/support to small businesses, so just call us on 01708 250 748.

This post was written by M3evolve