Tips for Managing Difficult Employees

Posted by Christina Krenek on Tue, May 22, 2012 @ 09:26 AM

frustrated managerAt some time or another, you may have dealt with a coworker or employee that pushed your buttons or really tested your patience. It’s no surprise that bad attitudes are unhealthy for teams and workplace communication. The more negative employees are at work, the less productive and valuable they are for the organization. Employees with bad attitudes are just as distracting to employees who are doing their jobs, as they are to the people managing them. This is why the ability to manage difficult employees is one of the most crucial leadership skills to have. But before you let that difficult employee go (that comes to mind as you read this), we are not only here to identify the four most common bad behaviors in the workplace, but also offer you some tips to managing difficult employees.

The Bad Behaviors:

  1. Negativity towards the company 

    It’s not uncommon to have those select employees who continuously make snide remarks about company leaders, coworkers, or the day-to-day operations. These negative feelings towards the organization can clash with the company’s goals and hurt the overall workplace environment. 

  2. Insubordinate challenges to authority 

    Managing difficult employees with bad attitudes is especially challenging. They might refuse to perform a task just to prove a point. That is disrespectful and an unprofessional form of communication that needs to be addressed immediately.

  3. Overly argumentative 

    Employees who aggravate and pick fights with other employees in the workplace create an uncomfortable and negative team environment. These employees don’t make efforts to compromise or settle disagreements with coworkers which is detrimental to the team’s communication integrity. 

  4. Lazy and unmotivated 

    These are the employees who aren’t engaged in their work and spend most of their time goofing off and causing distractions. An infographic created from the National Business Research Institute shared that disengaged employees spend their time sleeping, playing games, using social media, and socializing.

Do you remember Grumpy, one of Snow White’s seven dwarfs? He was a master of these four bad attitudes. He was negative, stubborn, and made a fuss about everything. Do you work with an office “Grumpy” or an employee who walks into work with a negative or cynical attitude? If you do—it’s OK—because at the end of the fairytale, Grumpy changes. Despite his initial bad attitude, he is the one who took charge and saved Snow White from the evil queen.

So before you dismiss the “Grumpys” of your office, decide if managing this difficult employee can be done in a timely manner and whether the line of respectful communication still exists. Finding ways to effectively manage employees with bad attitudes can save your organization the expense of unnecessary hiring costs. Did you know the average cost to replace an employee is 150 percent of the employee’s annual compensation? And those costs can reach up to 250 percent when replacing managerial or sales employees. This article shows you how to calculate the cost of employee turnover. 

The Solution:

Finding the source of the difficult employee’s bad attitude can help you better coach and manage the employee’s behavior without making him or her more upset. Let’s face it, we all have grumpy days, but a prolonged bad attitude usually means there is something else going on.

Employee assessments that determine a candidate’s ability to perform specific job duties and reveal certain personality traits can be very helpful for mangers looking to hire for job fit. Assessments, like the ProfileXT®let mangers know how employees respond to certain situations, how much they will love the job, and how they will interact with their peers and management. With this vital information, managers can decide how to best develop and communicate with the employee during a difficult time.

When evaluating the situation and preparing to talk with the difficult employee, leaders must ask themselves these four questions. 

  • How does the employee interact with their coworkers?
  • Is the employee’s change in attitude recent?
  • Has the employee’s workload or responsibility changed?
  • Did something recently happen in the individual’s life that could have triggered this bad attitude?

Once you have answered these questions leadership should confront the difficult employee privately and respectfully. Let the employee know how his or her behavior is negatively impacting the team and productivity. Keeping the questions above in mind, offer support but be firm, and let them know that their job is on the line if the bad attitude persists. Transparent communication is another valuable leadership skill to have in order to keep these kinds of conversations professional and to give constructive feedback with authority. 

Have you ever had to deal with a difficult employee? Share your experience with us in the comment box below or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.

Job Fit: The Power of the Right Person

Topics: Job Fit, ProfileXT, Assessments