Difficult employees will always be there. Your job as a manager is to determine the best path to ensure that your team is productive, despite this reality.

Seek First to Understand

If you look beyond the disruptive behavior of problem employees, there is probably much more going on. It’s important to understand these underlying factors before you can find solutions.

  • There are some individuals you will be able to turn around, while others will need to be let go. It may take some time to make this determination.
  • Difficult employees are typically unhappy or negative in general. Getting to the root of why and helping them realize how it plays into their performance is significant in their transformation. This also may be an opportunity for you to see who is coachable and who is not.

Effective Steps to Take

When dealing with difficult employees, it’s important to identify problem behaviors head on. Let these individuals know that their actions are overshadowing their contributions, and if they really want to be valued players, they need to rethink their approach.

Problem employees tend to:

  • Want to be liked: This may seem like a contrast to their behavior, but they do want to fit in. Speak to them one on one. Have a conversation about their self-brand and how their behavior has led them to it. Discuss the value of being respected over being liked, as that will carry a person much further in their career.
  • Want to be noticed: Highlight an individual’s positive performance attributes while coaching the less desirable ones. Problem employees need to know they are contributing. If the good they do is ignored and only the negative is talked about, they will gravitate toward that which gets them recognition – much like a mischievous child.
  • Be hard on themselves: They dwell on their own mistakes, and then in an effort to self-soothe, they point out the mistakes of others. The way they interact with their external environment is a good indication of how they treat themselves. Turn the tables. Ask what they would say if they were coaching an employee in this situation. This may give them insight to how connected they are to their own behavior.
  • Be emotional: Difficult employees demand perfection from themselves and become emotionally abusive when they fall short. They demand the same perfection from their environment and the people around them. They feel compelled to emotionally react when things don’t go as planned, and lack the emotional intelligence to be respected, even when they are good at what they do. Provide tools and awareness to help them recognize and change their outlook.

The Value of Mentoring

Even if you have a dream team, being an effective manager has its challenges. If you have a talented, yet difficult employee, mentoring may be your solution. It can be enormously valuable for individuals who thrive on interaction with influential colleagues. It may be tough to find the perfect mentor/mentee match, but once you do, it can be an excellent employee retention tactic.

Let the workforce experts at PrideStaff Fresno provide guidance and resources as you deal with problem employees. And, we can work with you to land top talent and make a smooth transition if you have to part ways with team members. Contact us today to learn more.

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