How Can Difficult Staff be Managed

There can't ever be a definitive answer to the question of how to manage difficult staff members. Each and every employee in a business is an individual, and therefore will respond differently to a mixture of issues. Encouragement might work with some of them, whereas others might react better to the hair dryer treatment. Still, as a guide, we've assembled some top tips to help you along your way.

The worst thing a leader could do is to simply disregard it and hope that the issue will just go away. It isn't likely to, and actually, it may intensify and get worse over time. The buck stops with the managers, so it's up to managers to sort out any issues of this type swiftly and as a professional. Despite the kind of career, a manager is likely to come across difficult members of staff no matter what, so it's something that will have to be approached at some point.

Sometimes, the management might see that particular employees are difficult to manage, as staff will have their own unique characteristics. Even especially good employees could be bogged down by a bad day now and again. However, a situation whereby a member of staff is a regular pain might have to be dealt with sooner rather than later. As everyone is individual, each instance must be handled uniquely as well.

How to manage difficult staff members - deal with the facts

The successful and effective management of your staff involves sorting through the facts alone, disregarding office gossip and hearsay. Employees who are content to disperse such gossip are a concern in their own right, and this must be identified and sorted out. Managers should conduct a full investigation into the issues in question. Prior to challenging difficult members of staff, a quiet, private room should be chosen, one in which there'll be no distractions. There should also be a suitable company representative in attendance, typically an individual from the human resources team.

How to manage difficult staff members - take a pragmatic approach

Your goal is not to start an argument; if tempers fray then the issue is just going to get increasingly complicated as time goes on. A manager has to take a rationalised approach, first placing emphasis on the positive actions that they would wish to see the staff member take instead of focussing on the poor behaviour that been so prevalent. If the concern is something fairly clear like constant lateness, then rather than disparaging the member of staff for their timekeeping, simply emphasise the importance of each and every employee arriving in work on time in order to meet their goals.

It's also incorrect to believe that the poor behaviour is a purposeful attempt at disobedience. It could be caused by personal issues or a lack of motivation materialising in the workplace. If it's at all possible to locate the heart of the issue then this is a huge advantage when trying to find a solution. The secret here is to ask impartial, non-judgemental, open questions that need more explanation than just a yes/no answer.

An excellent tip is to summarise what the staff member has said as this will show the worker you're listening and taking his/her concerns seriously.

How to manage difficult staff members - results take time

When handling difficult staff members it's imperative they're included in coming up with the solution to the problem. Employees are far more likely to stand by and work towards a decision they've had involvement in. The watch word for this stage of the process is on-going improvement. If they display willingness to amend their behaviour then half of the battle has already been won.

However, if it comes to your attention that the worker in question is unwilling to change their behaviour then you could have no option but to think about commencing termination procedures within the company's guidelines and policies.


Authour: Steve Morgan - management training

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