5 Tips for Dealing with Difficult Employees

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It has happened again. One of your employees is making life difficult for the rest of the department. The discontent has become a major distraction for your team, causing a dramatic decrease in their productivity.

Managers need to understand that a negative employee is not just a problem between them and that employee. The air of dissent affects everyone who’s around it.

Even though dealing with “problem employees” isn’t a favorite task for most managers, it’s part of the job. You will have to deal with the employee, and better sooner than later.

Easier said than done, right? Here are some guidelines that can help you handle the situation in a more diplomatic and effective way.

1. Don’t ignore the problem

It isn’t going to go away. Few people enjoy confrontation; but allowing a difficult employee to wreak havoc on your workplace is bad for business. Their bad attitude and actions can lower the morale and productivity of your other employees, especially if those employees take on extra work to avoid interacting with that person. And if they’re interacting with your clients, it could even lead to loss of business. You need to speak with the employee about the problem as soon as it is evident, before it gets out of hand.

2. De-personalize the conversation

Use “I” language instead of “you” language. Don’t open with a statement such as, “You are negative.” Instead give concrete examples, such as, “During yesterday’s meeting I noticed that you were not participating and even rolled your eyes while a co-worker was speaking.” Succinctly and factually state the offensive behaviors and the impact they are having on the team. Avoid generalities such as “not a team player,” and offer specific instances that were offensive.

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