Managing a Difficult Employee

With more than 30 years of experience in the staffing industry, JobFinders Employment Services has seen all types of employee characteristics and quirks. One type of employee almost every business has encountered is the “difficult employee.” A difficult employee may offer a variety of challenges: trouble getting along with others, not doing their job correctly, arriving late or absent often, disagreements with management … the list goes on and on! But what is a manager to do?

According to Forbes online magazine, in an article titled “9 Ways to Deal with Difficult Employees,” two ways of handling these employees include listening and providing feedback.

Listening is a very effective way at getting to the root of the problem. “Knowing the employee’s point of view” is one way to understand the situation.

“You may discover legitimate issues he or she has that need to be addressed,” author Erika Anderson notes. For example, a chronically late employee may have caregiver responsibilities at home. Perhaps a schedule could be adjusted to accommodate the situation. Or an employee not performing up to standards may not have been properly trained and just needs a little extra instruction.

Giving feedback is another important tool to helping retain and correct a difficult staff member. For one, you must watch your own messages. Your tone, body language and wording may impact the relationship between the two of you. Give feedback, when necessary, but be conscious of your delivery.

JobFinders’ on-site program managers have found that both positive and constructive feedback are important – in fact, equally important.  But sometimes, all that employee really needs is positive recognition. Employees need to know they’re doing a good job, and oftentimes positivity is all that is needed to motivate and change poor behavior.