Difficult employees and how to deal with them

Almost every manager will at some point encounter an employee who is difficult to work with. Challenging employees can do more than just irritate you – then can cause disruption in the workplace and create a much larger range of problems if their behavior begins to influence others. There are many things that could cause an employee to be difficult to work with; but whether that don’t get along with the rest of the team, under-perform in their tasks or spread negativity, it’s up to you as a manager to deal with the problem.

So what should you when you are confronted with a member of staff that’s causing you all sorts of issues? Let’s take a look at the best ways to deal with difficult employees.

Examine the situation for yourself

It is always vital that you should get a good understanding of the situation for yourself before you make any decisions or judgements. It may be the case that you have heard from other members of your team that one particular individual is disruptive, but until you take the time to examine the situation, you can’t know for sure what is going on.

Alternatively it may be that you are aware that an employee is problematic, but haven’t put any real focus into the situation. In any case, it’s worth spending some time really paying attention to what’s going on.

Understand what drives their behavior

To move forward and find a solution that benefits everyone you need to understand the underlying causes of the behaviour. It is unlikely that an employee just began acting badly for no reason – you need to consider why they are doing what they are doing.

What is making them act this way? Are they looking for attention – either to be noticed by management or just from the team generally? Are they insecure and make things difficult for others to mask their anxieties? Do they fear for their job and are being difficult because they don’t think they’ll be around for long?

Are changes needed in the way you operate?

Don’t assume that an employee being challenging is all their fault. It can sometimes be the case that difficult employees are as a result of the way that the business operates. It’s important that you should look at business processes as well as the employee as an individual. For example, it could be the case that you simply having more regular meetings with staff to discuss and resolve issues is enough to deal with the problem.

It is also a very common occurrence that certain members of staff are difficult because they perceive the way that work is assigned is unfair on them. While this might seem like an excuse, it’s a good idea to investigate the truth of this. Look into free shift planning and calendar tools if you need to get a better hold on the way that your team operates together.

Set expectations and be consistent

It may be the case that employees don’t necessarily understand what is expected of them and this is creating a problem. It may be the case that they are used to a different kind of working environment and aren’t aware that their behaviour isn’t acceptable. Rather than singling them out, it can be a much better idea to set out expectations for the working situation for the whole team, so that in future if they are still acting poorly, you can indicate to them exactly where they are going wrong.

It’s also vital that you show consistency in the way that you treat your staff. As an employee there is nothing more frustrating that feeling you are being picked on by management. Everyone should be judged to the same standard.

Work together to find a solution

The ideal way to resolve to the situation is to work together to find a solution that makes your, your employee and other members of staff happy. Spend time talking to them, being open and honest. Let them know what is wrong with the way that they are working and the way it affects others. In most situations, if you show them respect and take their grievances seriously, most members of staff will be happy to alter their behaviour when they understand that it will benefit them.