Difficult Employees Valuable for Teaching Communication
Most offices have them: employees who like to complain or bring drama to the workplace. Having these types of people around can be difficult for everyone. Coworkers become reluctant to work with the complainer or get dragged down by the negativity. Managers don’t want to deal with a difficult employee, or they spend too much time listening to complaints. The only way to wrest control of the situation and improve workplace communication is to make a plan to quash the malcontents. Here is one plan for turning a downer into a valuable team player.
Defining the Problem
The first thing people in leadership can do is to evaluate the types of negative employees they have and learn what their motivations are. This kind of knowledge will drive the strategy for addressing the problem. For example, managers might be facing a worker who likes to create drama in the workplace by gossiping, seeking attention and basically stirring the pot. Other difficult employees will whine about the process, vent to their coworkers or generally show disapproval for how things are done. One of the most toxic type of office personalities are those workers who actively stab people in the back or intentionally poison the atmosphere in order to further their personal goals.
Creating a Message
Fortunately, mastering the skills needed to work with difficult people will also help managers improve workplace communication overall. Complainers like to steer discussions off-topic and onto their grievances. A manager must resist this ploy and keep directing the talk back toward the real issue at hand. For example, if an employee begins to complain that a coworker is always turning in work late, the real discussion should be about how the process can be altered to eliminate the problem. Whenever the employee starts to grouse about the other employee by name, the manager has to move the topic back toward the big picture.
So, before meeting with problem employees, a manager will need to be prepared with a plan of action and discussion topics to keep the approach constructive and results-based.
When Danny Downer shows up in the supervisor’s office, he might be upset and ready to vent. It’s important that managers take control of the situation from the outset and set the tone for the discussion. The unhappy employee should be allowed a few minutes to talk about their perceived problems, and the manager should listen carefully.
It’s important to remember during this process that the goal for the manager is to reduce the number of future complaints and get the complainer back on board with what the team is working toward. The goal is not just to deal with single grievances one at a time. That is too time consuming and emotionally draining.
Here is the real key to dealing with complainers of all sorts: Make them find the solution. After a supervisor listens to the rant, they can empathize based on what the individual’s motivation is. Say, for example, that a worker complains because they want to garner attention for themselves. Managers can give a little, but steer the conversation back to solutions. Or, if a difficult employee just wants to demonstrate that he or she is smarter than other workers, the supervisor can ask him or her to use their intelligence to solve the problem. No matter what the complaint, managers who want to improve workplace communication must make it clear to their team members that no problem should be mentioned unless the malcontent also will be providing solutions.
The ïDon’t tell me about complaints, offer me solutionsï approach can win over perpetually disgruntled employees. Over time they will learn that their manager is not going to escalate the drama or reward toxic behavior. When unhappy people find out that potential solutions are largely in their hands, they might show up at the manager’s less often and be willing to improve things for the team. Again, keeping an eye on the big picture is a management skill, but it can be transferred over time to chronic complainers.
Dealing with difficult employees is tough. Fortunately, a manager who learns to take a constructive approach to finding solution with malcontents will find it simple to improve workplace communication for employees who love their jobs and their coworkers.
In addition to finding proactive ways to deal with difficult employees, managers can find out how to make sound hiring decisions and advance their companies using the resources at Mighty Recruiter as a guide.