What are the best ways to deal with difficult employees?

Ignoring a difficult employee will not make problems go away.

There are several types of difficult employees that can make the work environment miserable and unproductive for everyone in the workplace. The personalities involved can be varied, but there are basic actions that are useful to diffuse most situations. This includes acknowledging the issue, listening to all concerns and identifying the issue, and providing constructive feedback when dealing with difficult employees.

Difficult employees can ignore their responsibilities to others.

Some people think that if the problem is ignored, it will go away. The truth is, like most problems, ignoring the issue of dealing with difficult employees often leads to more problems. The best course of action is to recognize that there is a problem and implement a plan to assuage the concerns. Getting to the bottom of the problem as quickly as possible can lead to a quick and easy resolution.

A supervisor or manager should research the issue personally, rather than relying on another employee’s word. Listening skills are very important at this stage to get the full story and understand exactly what the issues are. The manager should approach the issue calmly, allowing the employee time to respond. Clear examples of the problems experienced should be provided, remembering to address the actions and not the personal aspects of the person involved.

Identifying the personality of the employee in question is a key component of dealing with difficult employees. Perfectionists often take criticism personally, while unproductive employees may not recognize constructive criticism unless clear examples and expectations are shown. Documentation and follow-up are also important when dealing with difficult employees, especially if termination is considered.

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Termination is an option, but research has shown that it is more cost-effective to try to resolve workplace difficulties than to hire and train a new employee. Some training may be needed to help the employee identify the problem and provide tools to change their behavior. When dealing with difficult employees, managers must remember that everyone can occasionally have a bad day. It’s when bad days become a pattern and affect other people’s productivity that action needs to be taken.

While many people can get defensive when problems are resolved, providing constructive feedback can help the employee improve his or her job performance. Patience and feedback can help the employee get back on track and become more productive. This, in turn, will set an example for other supervisors or managers looking for ways to deal with difficult employees.

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