Dealing With Difficult Employees

6 Best Strategies for Dealing With Difficult Employees


Businesses don’t intend to have difficult employees but having a plan for when these difficult times occur can help keep and promote productivity and foster healthy employee relationships in the workplace. Of course, this is better said than done, however, there are multiple strategies you can utilize to maximize employee management, effectively minimizing the opportunity to awaken difficult employees.

Here are Aspire360’s six strategies for dealing with difficult employees:

1. Don’t be confrontational.

It’s important when managing difficult employees to speak with them with a plan to correct their behaviour and not themselves personally. When someone feels attacked, even you, we’re more prone to acting out defensively. If an employee starts becoming difficult, don’t mimic their behaviour back, instead, continue to be constructional and calm – and never, ever, ask them to “calm down” too.

2. Build a strong entrepreneurial organization.

Building a team that is passionate and diverse, with an entrepreneurial attitude, teams are actually more likely to get along, build a sense of community, and choose to be the best “team player” for the success of the company. If you begin to notice an increase in difficult tendencies in an employee, try planning an employee engagement event to spark the entrepreneurial spirit of the office. 

3. Ask your difficult employee for feedback.

If you don’t know how your employees are feeling, it’s almost impossible to solve a problem. 70% of employed Americans are disengaged with their work – and a portion of those would even go out of their way to destroy the morale of the workplace. Simply asking your employees for feedback about their own role, work, and how management can improve can make a world of difference.

4. Try mediation.

Mediation is popular because it works. It might be tempting to quickly step into the “boss” hat when an employee is being difficult, especially if a conflict has arisen among the team. By telling your employee what to do, they may stomp off in frustration and do what you told them, however, the peace will only seem to be kept. In most cases, you’ve only solidified the foundation for even more difficulty further down the road. Mediation instead can solve problems and promote healthy relationships.

5. Consider putting an employee in another role.

There’s a chance your employee might be being difficult because they’re unhappy or not serving their real purpose in the role they have. Perhaps they have a hidden passion or might be more efficient and happy by moving from Distribution to Accounting. You can quickly find out where an employee is best suited by having a conversation with them, finding what makes them tick (removing those triggers) and discovering what satisfies their creativity.

6. Be clear with your direction.

Employees might not actually be being “difficult” but instead simply don’t understand what they should be doing. The employee might feel that their not being difficult. Rather, they might be simply just frustrated with themselves and not being able to properly do a job – or even upset at getting reprimanded for a task done wrong when they simply don’t understand. Try coaching an employee who may learn better through written direction than physical learning, etc. Some employees need more training than others, so ensure they are ready to take on tasks on their own.

If you can remember that communication and community are essential to preventing and managing difficult employees, you will notice the productivity of the workplace will grow exponentially. You can take these strategies and others into consideration and ensure you’re ready for any conflict in the workplace – if you need help planning, you can always reach out to a member of our team. 

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