Dealing with Difficult Employees

One of the biggest challenges any business owner or manager is ever likely to face is the challenge of dealing with a difficult employee. We would all like to think that the people we hire are always going to be friendly, hard-working, and compliant, but that is just not the case.

Difficult employees can make work-life miserable for everyone whether it’s because they don’t pull their weight or due to the number of conflicts they start with others in the business, which means, when you have one, you need to get on top of the situation and deal with them as best you can as soon as you can, but what exactly can you do to improve the situation with difficult employees?

Listen to them

It may seem rather trite, but listening to a difficult employee can really help you to manage the situation. When you know why they are behaving the way they do, and what they think about their situation at work, you are in a much better position to with them to find a resolution.

Often, difficult employees are acting out for reason. Maybe they feel like other employees are treated better or they are given all of the hard tasks at work and it makes them react negatively. If you can find out the root cause, you can work with them to change it, and hopefully, they too will change for the better.

Incentivize them

Gifts for employees have been used to improve productivity and employee behavior for a long time now. When you’re dealing with difficult employees it can be tempting to use the stick approach, but the carrot is often more effective. If you can give them goals to meet that are attached to a positive outcome such as a voucher, bonus, or nice meal with the boss, you stand a much better chance of changing their behavior than you would if you simply punished them, thus making them feel even more bitter or outcast from the rest of your employees.

Give feedback

Sometimes, difficult employees really don’t know how difficult they are being, which is why it is important that you offer them feedback. It can be tricky telling someone that their work isn’t up to scratch or that they rub people up the wrong way, but if you don’t tell them, the situation will go on and on and on and that would be worse. If you want to make it less awkward sandwich one piece of negative feedback between two more positive things and it won’t look like a full-on attack on your employee.

Keep consistent

If you reprimand your employee for slacking off one day but allow them to get away with it the next, the message they will get is that it isn’t all that important to comply and they can get away with doing whatever undesirable behavior it is. That’s why you need to be consistent and challenge behaviors whenever they arise. Keeping difficult employees in line can be tough, but if you employ the above strategies, you should see an improvement.


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