Subscribe to My Feed   Follow Me On Twitter   Join Me On LinkedIn   Friend Me On Facebook

Managing a Difficult Employee

We all have had a difficult employee that we needed to manage; it’s just a fact of being a leader! The goal is to be proactive in managing that difficult employee before it gets to the point where (s)he is causing damage to the team environment or to his/her own professional career.

Consider these best practices for managing a difficult employee:

  • Check yourself! Be sure the employee is actually being difficult. I have coached a few clients who complained of “difficult employees,” only to find out, through our conversation, that the employee was not being difficult but rather challenging an assumption of the manager. Of course sometimes challenging can be done in a less than professional way. But in the few cases of which I am thinking, the challenging was done professionally and privately. It was simply a matter of the manager feeling that (s)he should not be challenged.
  • Have a conversation with the employee to ensure that (s)he understands that his/her behavior if not acceptable and can be professionally damaging. This enables you to dive a bit deeper and understand what is going on with the employee. Be very clear about what you are seeing from the employee, be factual.
  • Collaborate with the employee to solve the problem. This may mean helping them to reach out to Human Resources for support or working with them one-on-one in to solve a work-related problem. Be clear about expectations and collaborate to develop a solution that enables for solving the behavior problem and meeting your expectations. This entails developing an action plan to move forward in the right direction. Set specific goals to be achieved in changing the behavior as well as timelines for doing so.
  • Check in at set time intervals with the employee to be sure they are moving in the right direction and not falling back to unacceptable behavior.

Remember, that employees can be difficult for any number of reasons. They may be having difficultly at home and that is driving unacceptable behavior at work, or they may be impacted by a major change that they are having difficulty accepting, or any other reason may be driving the behavior. You need to be able to have a conversation with the employee – remaining calm even if the employee is not – and be factual and explicit about what is unacceptable and why.

Comments are closed.