6 steps for managing difficult staff

There may be times in your career when you have to deal with difficult employees. This could be because they aren’t getting on with their job, they’re causing trouble for the business or they’re affecting other members of staff. Whatever the reason, these situations can be tricky and they need to be handled delicately and professionally.

There are several steps you should take when managing a difficult member of staff in order to ensure a fair and efficient process. These are outlined below.

  1. Document any issues/talks you have

If you’re having trouble with an employee be sure to keep record of any altercations, reports from other members of staff or any conversations you have with them. Ideally you will be able to rectify the situation and avoid it happening again, but worst case scenario, disciplinary action may need to be taken. If this is the case you may be asked for any records of misconduct or previous altercations, so documenting these is really important.

  1. Don’t ignore the problem

No one likes confrontation, but this doesn’t mean you can simply ignore the problem. Especially as this could have a negative affect on the workforce and morale as a whole. Even if you know it’s not going to be pleasant, you need to address the situation for the sake of your company culture and the wellbeing of your workforce. Sorting out any issues as soon as possible can help to alleviate the situation.

  1. Stay professional at all times

Even if your employee is being difficult or provoking, you need to remain professional at all times. It can be hard, especially if conversations become heated. But, as the senior member of staff you need to remain calm and collected. Retaliating or becoming irate could cause the problem to get worse and could reflect negatively on you further down the line.

  1. Listen to them

Your employee may be being difficult because they are experiencing their own problems inside, or outside of work. Take the time to listen to them and hear their side of the story. Don’t simply dismiss them because they’re being difficult, as this could cause the problem to escalate. Once you’ve heard what they have to say, you may be able to find an easy solution.

  1. Suggest ways you can improve the situation

Once you’ve had a chat, suggest ways in which you can work together or support them to solve the problem. This is the most effective and positive form of action. What’s more, this should reassure them that you have their interests at heart and can hopefully help to alleviate the situation.

  1. Warn them of what will happen if nothing changes

While you can only do your best to rectify the situation, you also need to explain to them what is going to happen if things don’t change. Arrange a meeting and have an open and honest chat about the consequences should they choose to ignore your suggestions. But, make sure you’re not aggressive in doing so, as this could make the problem worse.

Managing difficult staff is a learning curve for all professionals. We tend to shy away from confrontation, but addressing the issue right away could be the key to solving the problem and ensuring there is no drop in productivity or morale.

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