13 Ways to Manage Difficult Employees

13 Ways to Manage Difficult Employees

Distinguish Between Bad Work and Clashing StylesDistinguish Between Bad Work and Clashing Styles

Your judgment may be influenced by a dislike for a particular employee’s personal approach. Take a step back and drive toward an impartial, business-minded evaluation of performance.

Gain ConsensusGain Consensus

To further develop a fair assessment, ask team members to lend input without leading their responses.

Make Everything ClearMake Everything Clear

Set specific objectives in writing so the difficult employee can’t say “but I thought you meant …” in the future.

Empower Peer InfluencersEmpower Peer Influencers

Sometimes, a struggling staffer improves more through peer pressure. So encourage your top team members to give an authoritative “push” when appropriate.

Build in Extra Feedback TimeBuild in Extra Feedback Time

Schedule feedback sessions more frequently for these workers, perhaps even once a week.

Always Begin Feedback Sessions on a Positive NoteAlways Begin Feedback Sessions on a Positive Note

No professional benefits from a non-stop brow-beating. To begin a session, finding something nice to say before discussing any issues.

Let These Employees Assess ThemselvesLet These Employees Assess Themselves

It also helps to begin a one-on-one by asking, “How do you think you’ve been doing?” That way, you get a sense of whether you’re on the same page or if your expectations need to be further clarified.

Take the Team ApproachTake the Team Approach

It’s not “I need you to do better …” It’s “We need to work on these improvement points together for the good of our team.”

Maintain Your StandardsMaintain Your Standards

Helping a problematic employee doesn’t mean you lower the bar. Make it clear that long-term success will depend upon reaching needed but doable performance measures.

Don't Get EmotionalDon’t Get Emotional

By getting angry or upset, you’ll only position yourself as someone to be avoided. Stay calm.

Call Out Positive ProgressCall Out Positive Progress

Don’t let a job well done on the part of struggling staffers go unnoticed. You’ll spread good karma, while sending a message about the quality of performance you expect.

Come Up With a New RoleCome Up With a New Role

Maybe you placed a hire in the wrong position for his or her skillset and interests. Before terminating anyone, consider whether there’s another role that may be a better fit.

If an Eventual Termination Seems InevitableIf an Eventual Termination Seems Inevitable

Make sure you’ve already covered the traditional “three strike” steps: A verbal warning, followed by a written one, and then a “final” written one.

Dennis McCafferty
Dennis McCafferty
Dennis McCafferty is a contributor to CIO Insight. He covers topics such as IT leadership, IT strategy, collaboration, and IT for businesses.

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