Navigating Employee Relations Isn't Always Easy

Strategies To Manage Difficult Employees

There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to managing difficult employees. Sometimes, challenging employees are like that due to their character or attitude. Other times, it is a matter of the situation they are in or an unfortunate set of circumstances. 

That is one of the reasons why you are not likely to succeed in managing every difficult employee by using the same cookie cutter approach. You have to shape your strategy to match the employee and the circumstances in which they find themselves. 

While every employee is a story for themselves, it is evident that there are some similarities between those ‘trouble-makers.’ Let’s start by identifying five types of difficult employees and then move onto creating strategies for their management.

The Usual Types of Difficult Employees

Here are some of the employees that can are a part of almost every company. It is not entirely fair to call these people ‘trouble-makers’, even though it is a joke. Mostly, the root of their behavior is not an expression of their innate need to cause trouble in the workplace. The heart of it is something entirely different. Let’s look into it.

The Absentee

This is the person who frequently absent from work. They take a lot of sick days, personal days off and prolonged lunch breaks. Their behavior is bad for the morale, and if tolerated for extended periods, it can cause other employees to be discouraged from doing their best.

Try and talk to the Absentee and find out what is the root of such conduct. Bring the issue to them and ask them to create a plan about how they want to remedy the situation and improve their attendance record.

The Critic

The Critic always has something to say about every decision the manager makes. They frequently comment on the upper management moves and strategies. It seems they strive to confront the authority and always have something negative to say about it.

While the Critic may be annoying and even irritating, their insights may be valuable and correct. It is best to show them you value their opinion and ask them to word their thoughts more positively and constructively.

The Crisis Center

It is crucial to be extra careful when dealing with your own, human Crisis Center. They are always in some distress, overwhelmed by the problems from their personal life. They allow their problems to affect their ability to perform their job to a high degree. 

Your Crisis Center regularly discusses their issues in the workplace and focuses on them instead of the job they should be performing.

It is essential to be careful when addressing this issue, because, the problems are usually quite real and sometimes of a medical nature. You want your HR department involved in this situation as you try to work out the solution that is best for both your employee and your company.

The Prima Donna

A Prima Donna needs to be in the center of every meeting, every project and every day. There are tasks that they won’t do because the tasks are underneath them and their expertize. They tend to hoard the time and attention of others. Their behavior may discourage and annoy coworkers.

The key to addressing such a situation in the workplace is to be careful when approaching the Prima Donna. You need to solve the problem without attacking the Prima Donna’s personality. One of the proper ways to do so is to explain that their prominent activity on the meetings may make it difficult for others to express their valuable input. 

Sometimes, giving your Prima Donnas extra tasks and projects can make them thrive. These can boost their resumes and allow them to acquire new skills. In many cases, Prima Donnas are that way because they have amazing skills and abilities and that should not go to waste.

The Pessimist

These employees tend to shoot down projects before they even start. The Pessimist will often comment that the deadline is impossible. They will say that a similar project has been tried before and has miserably failed. 

The best strategy with these types of employees is to give clear arguments on why their pessimistic predicament has low chances of becoming real. Also, ask them to provide you with their vision of a good project and a strategy for its completion that they feel could work.

Work with them on the way they express their thoughts and ideas and ask them to try and point out the positives and offer solutions.

Managing difficult employees doesn’t stop at recognizing these five types. You can save yourself from a lot of trouble by hiring people with a great attitude in the first place. You can always teach them new skills and give them more training. On the other hand, it is much harder to change somebody’s attitude. 


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