The most important thing in dealing with diffcult employees is to keep all emotions in check and treat all employees the same. Do not yell at the employee or behave rudely, or talk about the employee to others. Separate his or her personality from the professional role. It can make it more challenging to reach a compromise and can create legal trouble if the employee feels like he or she was treated unfairly. Focus on the employee’s tasks, projects and results rather than their personality traits, according to Business Management Daily, an organization that provides business advice to individuals and companies of all sizes.
Having an open-door policy also can help, business consulting firm Frugal Marketing advises. It can make employees feel welcome to address issues and come to you before situations may fester and get out of hand.
• Give the employee specific instructions in writing. Then speak to the employee about the project. Ask him or her to repeat back to you what is expected. Setting clear expectations can ensure the person knows what is expected of him or her.
• Listen to the employee’s ideas. Does he or she have any valid points? Explain point by point why his or her ideas will work or won’t work or why you agree or disagree with them. Use solid reasons for any objections. Make sure the person knows you’ve really paid attention and are open to hearing their ideas. If necessary, ask for clarification.
• Talk to the employee in person and in private but on his or her turf. Calling them into your office can make them put up their guard. Miscommunications can arise from telephone and email conversations.
• Avoid repeating yourself. The Small Business Chronicle says if you’ve stated your points and the employee still disagrees, he or she is not listening and not likely to change his or her behavior. If you need to come back to the topic on a different day, let the employee know you’ll address it later.
• Be consistent and set consequences. Employees will look to make sure a manager does what he or she says, so it’s important to hold them to standards, Forbes says. If necessary, set consequences such as termination, or a warning or no promotion to encourage a change in behavior.
• Terminate the employee if necessary. If you’ve set clear expectations, documented all incidents and continue to see no change in your employee, termination may be necessary. Make sure company protocols and procedures are strictly followed.
Before talking to a difficult employee, Business Management Daily recommends practicing what you’ll say in order to speak concisely and avoid jumbling your thoughts. A manager or business owner also will want to document all interactions with this employee. Forbes says this allows for a record of the employee’s bad behavior that is available in case the employee is terminated. ♦