How to deal with Difficult Employees

It is common to meet difficult and cranky people. You pass them on the street, meet them at the supermarket or at the lobbies in a building. But when it comes to working with them, it is an entirely different situation and something which gets on your nerves. Somewhat you may feel that such people are born just to be different.

You have to and continue to work with such people and most of them never like you or respect you. It is easy to recognise difficult and cranky people. The best signs of their behavior or character are coming late to the office, leaving early, not achieving their targets on time, and having tons of excuses whenever they make mistakes.

Well! There is more. Such individuals are often the ones who harass you and other employees, neglect details, ask a lot of self-explanatory and unwanted questions, disturb you and are always the ones who challenge your authority and decisions.  The worst thing is that when such difficult people interact with people below their hierarchy or with customers, they would be often rude, crabby, uninformed, condescending, misleading, etc. Of course, such people always exist in your office and you have to handle them with care.

Naturally, no person would want to work with difficult people, even be near them. They are always filled with negative vibes and may tend to make you more grumpy. Basically, when you are dealing with such problematic individuals, the overall productivity takes a beating, morale goes down the drain and the level of frustration and dissatisfied work environment rises. Not to mention even making the customers and vendors quite upset.

Tips to Keep in Mind While Handling Difficult Employees

• Never Ignore The Problem:- This is the first thing that you have to keep in mind. You are very well aware that employees are the asset of the organisation. Most of them provide value to the organisation and have exceptional qualities that make them the best in their work. The biggest problem lies when managers simply ignore the problematic staffs.

The problem gets more worse when managers who go by the rules feel that the problem will just pass off. They assume that such people will somehow turn themselves around or would stop being troublemakers. Neglecting the situation is the wrong solution and could lead to making the problem more progressive.

• Immediate Intervention:- Rather than allowing the negative problem to take its tentative course, you need to intervene as soon as possible. As a manager, it is your responsibility to take action as soon as the particular behavior (negative behaviour) pattern reaches to the core. If left untouched, the problem will escalate.

Most often, difficult individuals have no idea that their behaviour is a problem for others or other people react in a negative manner because of their actions. The basic reason for this is because many people simply put up with such annoying attitudes and go along with it, just to get along.  Some people tend to display negative behaviour due to job frustration or work pressure. Just like many managers, employees always want to be the most famous and liked individual in the entire office. Nothing gives you the added prestige and the feeling of being the alpha male among your colleagues and subordinates.

Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the manager to take the necessary action to rectify the problem. So whether the problem exists due to the lack of knowledge of the employee, lack of proper feedback or projecting the given problem on some other employee; the manager is responsible for addressing and turning around the predicament.

• Researching the problem:- It is important that the manager has to research about the problem extensively. With the accurate examples and data, the manager has to take the problematic person to the conference room or to his cabin, away from other employees. Then they have to address the issue with the difficult person and try to come up with a solution.

Firstly, as a manager, you could ask this employee if he has any knowledge about any kind of ongoing issues, in order to see whether the person is aware of it.  In case the employee is not aware, then the manager has to give a detail description of the unacceptable attitude. While discussing, the particular employee will interrupt and disagree or he will deny that such an issue regarding their behaviour even exists.  Nevertheless, as a manager it is your responsibility to give clear evidence of the unacceptable behaviour.

In addition, it is important that the manager allows the employee to respond and acknowledge the allegations. Now if the difficult employee doesn’t accept to believe the given evidences, then you can at least hope for an intellectual acceptance of the given possibility that the problem exists.

• Getting on Track:-  It is important that you get the problematic employee on the right track. When the employee realises or starts to understand the negative behaviours are real and disturbs others in the office, then either the manager or any person from the HR department should start to coach the employee in showing more appropriate and acceptable behaviour. These employees need to be provided time and resources in trying on more suitable and acceptable behaviours. Plus the human resource department has to provide regular feedback to the particular employee and the management.

If the above procedures fail, then the ultimate solution will be the termination of the employee. In such scenario, one cannot take into consideration even if the employee is one of the most productive and experienced one who has been working for a long time for the company. Initially, you could give a warning and if that doesn’t work, then terminating the employee is the only feasible solution you have.

This would involve preparing a detailed written report of the verbal and written feedback conveyed to the difficult employee. The decision could be a bit harsh, but it conveys a strict message that the organisation doesn’t tolerate such vague behavior and avoids spreading the given behaviour to other employees. Achieving the organisational targets and maintaining high productivity levels are what matter to you and it is something that you have to achieve at any cost.


Image source: webentrepreneur