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Dealing with Difficult Employees

As a manager or team leader, it is your responsibility to deal with difficult employees in the workplace. There are many different types of difficult employees, from the gossiping and downright rude, to the self obsessed, lazy and useless! In order to handle a difficult employee you need to find out exactly why they are being difficult and whether there is anything that can be changed to remedy the situation.

Types of difficult employees you may be faced with:

Self obsessed: they believe their opinions and work are far more important that their colleagues and behave in a manner that is selfish.

Talkative yet poor listener: they talk a lot but never listen to what they are being told, which tends to result in situations where their work is not in line with what the management want.

Mean spirited: this type of employee has a negative attitude; they may hate their job, their employer or even personal situations may cause them to be miserable and thus affect their attitude at work.

Bully: one of the worst types of employees and one that must be reprimanded immediately, is the bully. An employee that affects the confidence and self-worth of their colleagues is severely detrimental to the overall morale of the team, department, and even company.

Worrier: employees that worry or get overly anxious at unnecessary things can be difficult to handle as their pessimistic attitude may transfer to the other team members and make them all worry about things for no reason.

Promise breaker: an employee who always breaks their promises and work commitments is one that cannot be relied upon, trusted to meet deadlines or placed in a team environment as their lack of commitment will negatively impact of the rest of the team.

Addressing the situation

Irrespective of the ‘type’ of difficult employee you are left to deal with, your main priority is address the situation before it gets worse. Your approach must be tailored according to the person and the reason why they are causing issues at work.

If you do not address the root cause of the problem you may find that the impact it has on your business is counterproductive and essentially harmful.

Never let conflicts escalate

Employees handling a difficult colleague can often get out of control and end up causing a bigger problem that what needs to be. Instead you have to address the problem – manager to employee. The way you handle a difficult employee will determine how they react, and so it is vital that you do not take an aggressive, unprofessional or offensive one when speaking to them.

Your position is to mediate and remedy a situation, not to add petrol onto the fire.

A happy workforce is a productive one

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As a manager, you must work to ensure your workforce is happy at work. This does not necessarily mean in terms of pay or incentive packages, but it refers to ensuring your staff are content in their job, and with their team/office environment. Through remedying any underlying problems between staff members, and by providing training to help employees feel confident and capable of performing the tasks of their job, you can effectively ensure your workforce are satisfied at work. 

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