Being in management can have its downfalls; on being difficult employees. Some people just do not get along. Some people just love to difficult and stir the pot. And no matter how much effort you put into the situation, some people will never get it.
There are all types of difficult employees:
We all know the various types of “difficult” employees; the tardy employee, the complainer, the aggressor, the dishonest employee, the harasser, just to name a few. As a manager, no matter how hard you try to work with the employee to improve their performance and/or attitude, some people just won’t change. Phillip Thow recommends not trying to change the employee but working with them to create an environment that they can work calmly and productively in. Phillip Thow has some managing techniques to use that will hopefully create a more balanced, stable work environment.
Assess the situation
Any employee can cause problems at one time or another. No one is perfect. Phillip Thow reminds us to keep in mind that stress in an employee’s personal life or work life is a very common cause of stress at work. Before approaching an employee that has caused this situation, take a moment to step back and assess the situation and its potential cause(s). Each situation is different and no two employees are alike, so before you react, take time to think about the underlying issues and respond accordingly.
Ask for clarification
Get the facts! Rumor mills abound in a work environment and this can cause unwarranted problems in the office. Always go straight to the source to get the facts and disregard rumors, even if they come from your most productive and neutral employee. Once you’ve obtained the facts, don’t take sides. Stop to take time to determine what your approach will be in handling the situation and the employee.
Plan the time of confrontation
Plan ahead. Phillip Thow stresses the importance of speaking with the difficult employee in a private setting, away from other co-workers. Embarrassing an employee by confronting them in front of their peers only makes for a more volatile situation. Phil Thow recommends making a 15-30 minutes appointment with the employee and using a private office with a door, to make sure there is no chance of eavesdropping. Make this employee feel as comfortable as possible. You are trying to help this employee, not berate them. Phil Thow strongly suggests that you have two management people in the meeting.
Don’t react! Respond! Don’t take this situation personally and don’t treat the employee as if you are attacking them on a personal level. Try to get to the root of the problem so you can help to determine the source and fix it.
Let the employee tell their side of the story and don’t interrupt them. Wait until they are completely finished before speaking. Ask the employee to then offer their own suggestions as to how the situation might be repaired. Requesting their opinion shows that you value them as a person and respect their opinions. By taking this time to listen and ask for the suggestions, you are letting the employee know that you care and respect their emotions and also that you are paying attention to them. Phil Thow reminds us to respond, not react. Do not get upset and be sure to ask the employee questions that can be answered in just a few words; this will help to prevent any possible reactive situations from the employee. If you can work with the employee to determine the source of the problem, you have a better chance of resolving it.
Come to a solution
The end goal in any employee confrontation should always be to eventually find a solution to the problem at hand. Without a solution, things will just continue on the same path and these same problems are bound to arise again. If, in the unfortunate situation, the employee does not respect the solution and chooses to not abide by it, then termination is likely your next action. If this should come to be the final solution, Phil Thow advises to always accurately follow the company’s procedures on termination.
Policy for termination
A stable, balanced workplace is required for the remaining employees to enjoy their time at the office. When difficult employees continue causing problems and stresses in the work environment, sometimes termination is your only option. If this is the case, Phil Thow recommends going about it with an open door policy. Always remain approachable in these situations and never let the difficult employee take advantage of you or your company policies.
Use these tactics to handle difficult employees and your entire work environment will benefit.