Managing Difficult Employees

Managing Difficult Employees

How do you effectively manage difficult people at work?

By Emma Meakin

Managing a difficult employee can be a daunting prospect but don't make a mountain out of a molehill. Follow the handy points below and you will be able to face the most difficult of employees.

Be cool, calm and collected

First, keep your cool. However difficult an employee’s behaviour may be, you can’t get angry or abusive. To do so would be to undermine your own authority in their eyes, and in the eyes of other staff. It risks making you look like the unreasonable one. Remember if you become angry the situation will simply escalate and so keeping your cool is key.

Stay constructive and positive

Think about what might be causing the difficult behaviour and suggest how it could be resolved. Difficult people often have insecurities or low confidence. Your management tools, including training and coaching, could be effective in turning them into a productive employee. Keep meticulous records of your communication. If the time comes to fire them, you should be able to demonstrate that you’ve done all you can to turn the situation around.

Handling a patronizing attitudes

Bear in mind that it’s all too easy to misread motives and intentions, particularly with strangers. Do you know that a person’s patronizing tone is directed at you, or might it just be how they speak? Sales staff trained to recite a certain patter may do so unthinkingly, without really hearing their own tone of voice.

Occasionally, where the patronizing person is clearly and consistently talking down to you, it might be time to react. If you choose this approach, avoid explicit criticism. Instead, calmly explain to them how the situation makes you feel.