When an employee gets suddenly tough to manage, or when you hire a difficult employee unknowingly, the underlying cause may be either of two things. It could be situational or behavioral.
Tough employees can come in form of one who does not perform well; or one who is difficult to deal with – one who does not just get along well with others.
Handling difficult employees can be challenging especially for small businesses and, if not managed properly, can lead to waste of time, energy and other valuable resources.
Here are few steps you can take to managing difficult employees:
Listen and observe. It could actually be irritable to put up with such an employee, but it’s best to deal with it appropriately and promptly. Be observant as this can help you get to the root cause of the problem. Observe and get your facts before thinking of confronting the employee. The tough employee will most likely always play “victim,” hence the need to get valid facts about the issue. Don’t observe for too long because it is very important to address issues like this as soon as possible.
Confront the employee. The employee might act unaware or might really be unaware, so get to talk with the employee in a confidential manner. Ask questions and address the issue calmly. If the employee acts oblivious, run through the valid facts you have noted. Allow the employee to respond, and also state firmly the unacceptability of their current disposition within the firm/industry.
Offer to help the employee get back on track. Most people respond better when they feel heard and understood. Try to help the employee become better at her/his duties as well as in getting along with other staff.
Document the process. When the above has not yielded any results, then this step should be highly considered. The employee would take a documentation more seriously. The conclusion of this document should be firm and stern, as much as possible. For example, “Failure to exhibit good work ethics and improvement, despite prior warnings, may lead to further disciplinary action or termination of contract.”
Know when to end it. If the situation persists, be courageous enough to end it and don’t put up excuses. Know that putting up with a tough employee for a long time can eventually affect your business adversely. Firing someone is not easy, but eventually might become expedient.
Addressing unacceptable work ethics and work place conduct consistently and firmly helps to build a great culture, increase productivity, and protect your company from failure.
Tell us about a time you had to address a difficult employee or colleague in the comments section below.