Steps to Handling Difficult Employees
At some point, all businesses eventually hire some difficult employees. These are the people who frequently complain about benefits and work conditions and generally stir up discontent around the office. They constantly quote human resource practices and talk down to departments other than their own. Such negativity from one person has a tendency to spread to other people, ultimately hampering overall morale and productivity.
Ordinarily, this kind of behavior would have a simple solution: firing the employee. However, if he or she is actually quite proficient at his or her job, it can be difficult to cut the cord because of the time-consuming process of finding an adequate replacement. As a result, many business-owners procrastinate on taking action until something explosive happens between workers. To avoid getting to this stage, first inform the difficult employees that their attitude is affecting the company’s bottom line. Then, there are several other routes to take from there.
Consult Human Resources
Even before you speak to your negative worker, it is usually a good idea to approach the people in your HR department and ask them if there have been any procedures implemented to effectively deal with the situation. Additionally, they can use their prior experiences with similar matters to provide you with advice for level-headed courses of action as well as any documentation you might need.
Many companies also have resources in place that are designed to bring people out of patterns of negative behavior. EAPs or Employee Assistance Programs privately give advice to difficult employees on how to turn that negativity into productivity. When you inform the workers of these services, you express a level of faith in them that they are sure to appreciate. More often than not, an open hand is more effective than a clenched fist.
Introduce Performance Reviews
Though many workers roll their eyes at the idea of receiving regular performance reviews, it is a subtle yet tried and true method of handling difficult employees. This is because it simultaneously reinforces the standards of the business to the rest of the staff while also providing the troublesome individual with a reflective document. Your concerns are expressed in a manner that is more objective than a verbal approach without the possibility of being accused of singling him or her out.
In these performance reviews, rate each person’s contributions to the efficiency of the business as a whole and to the morale and atmosphere of the workplace. Make sure that your expectations for everyone are clearly stated in addition to the individual assessments. They need to know that their ability to cooperate and support one another in reaching company goals holds just as much sway over their ratings as their sales numbers and their ability to meet deadlines.
Speaking Directly With Difficult Employees
This is often the most difficult step in dealing with negative individuals, as it is fraught with the potential for misunderstandings and arguments. If you approach the situation correctly, however, it can be the fastest way to get to the heart of the issue. Take care to remain cool-headed and put your frustrations behind you, because the last thing you want is for this to go from being a business issue to a personal altercation.
Even if you have already done so in a broader context via performance reviews, establish a link between the poor behavior your employee is conveying and the company’s standards, goals and function. This way, you keep the focus on the well-being of the business instead of drifting toward the person’s personality.
At no point should you accuse the employee of having an ïattitudeï problem, as it could be easily construed as a subjective personal dislike rather than a legitimate issue with performance. To further back up your statements, bring up specific examples involving him or her that affected others’ morale and ability to efficiently perform their jobs. Generally speaking, when people discover that their actions are having negative repercussions on other people, they are more likely to reassess their behavior for the better.
Keep the Wider Company and Staff in Mind
Many working professionals prefer to have administrative people in place who are proactive when it comes to solving problems head-on. Unfortunately, when it comes to employees who are creating the problems, many business-owners and managers instead resort to developing work-arounds for the rest of the staff to use, thereby allowing the discontent to persist.
When you clearly communicate your expectations and concerns to these difficult employees, you not only stand a greater chance of keeping them in the company with a better attitude, you give everyone else confidence in their choice of career, which only means good things going forward.