Posted on August 19, 2015

5 Tips for Dealing with Difficult Employees

It’s inevitable. There’s always one bad apple.

No matter the industry or work environment, difficult employees are everywhere. It’s likely you’ll come face to face with one at some point in your career, whether that person is a peer who isn’t meeting company expectations or an employee of yours who isn’t getting along with others. Regardless of the circumstances, it’s best to confront the issue early.

Here are five tips managers should consider when faced with a difficult employee.

1. Be transparent.

If you have a problem with an employee, don’t ignore the issue. Too often, managers believe situations with problem employees will resolve themselves. The longer these problems persist, however, the more company morale and productivity is affected. As soon as you notice an employee is becoming a problem, you should document the issue. Create an improvement plan and work with the employee on how to implement the strategy. Yes, this will be an uncomfortable conversation, but approaching it with action items will turn the employee into an ally, not an adversary.

2. Keep detailed records.

If you’re experiencing problems with an employee, it is imperative to record all issues. Though you may think the employee will improve or their behavior will change, what happens if you’re wrong? You cannot take action and dismiss a troublesome employee without detailed information about what has gone wrong and what your response has been.

3. Maintain consistency.

Hold each employee to the same standards. If you expect all employees to be punctual, do not accept one person’s tardiness because you like or feel badly for them. Determine what behavior you won’t tolerate and don’t allow it to be acceptable some of the time. Employees notice if a coworker is receiving preferential treatment, and this can alienate your staff. Establish standards and stick to them.

4. Be professional.

You may want to share your frustrations about an employee to a colleague, but don’t fall into this trap. Revealing an issue like this can create a negative environment and eliminate trust between you and your employees. Good managers approach the employee in question and handle the issue without involving others.

5. Make tough decisions.

Don’t allow an employee to drain morale or company productivity. If the individual is obstinate and continues to cause problems even after you have tried to implement an improvement plan, you could be faced with a difficult decision. Take action when necessary.

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Source: Forbes