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8 ways to deal with difficult employees

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Dealing with employees is never an easy task. While most of the white-collars are highly educated, don’t assume everyone is reasonable and rational.

As a manager, however, one still have to take the bull by the horns because even one challenging co-worker can affect the morale, productivity and outlook of your entire team.

As such, Octavia Goredema, founder and editor of Twenty Ten Talent, shared some of the tips on Robert Half to help you manage employees, especially difficult employees, more effectively and professionally.

Document instances of poor performance or problematic behaviorIt’s important to capture each instance in writing as it happens for your own records, including the date and time. You will need to provide evidence of the poor performance, troublesome actions or bad habits as you work to resolve the issue with your employee.

Identify the performance gapsDetermine what you want and need from your employee to bridge the gap between their actions and the company’s expectations. This may require you to review the employee’s job description and any feedback shared in previous appraisals or performance reviews.

Review your company’s policies and proceduresIt is essential to be familiar with your human resources policies and the guidelines provided to employees. If you have any questions related to the policies and procedures outlined, consult HR first to obtain clarification and advice. Your company’s policies and procedures will be the benchmark for guidance to your employee on the next steps that will be taken if the poor performance continues.

Get centeredBefore you address a concern, make sure you’re in the right frame of mind. Dealing with a difficult employee can be tricky and stressful. It’s normal for emotions to run high if you feel you’re being disrespected or taken advantage of. Stay poised and keep perspective. If you don’t internalize things you’ll be able to discuss the matter more effectively.

Talk to the employee in private and listen intentlyDon’t avoid the hard conversation, but make sure you’re prepared. You need to be transparent about how the issue is negatively impacting performance. Cite examples and give constructive feedback. But the discussion needs to be a two-way street. This is your opportunity to learn what may be causing the problem. Listen carefully to what your employee has to say.

If your employee becomes upset, give them time and space to process the conversation and schedule time to follow up.

Set clear expectations and put a plan in writing to resolve the issueDon’t leave anything to chance. Explain what is required and detail expectations clearly and concisely with action items, concrete timelines and mechanisms for measuring progress. Also make sure the employee understands what the next steps are and the consequences of not improving or following through.

Offer supportAs you assess your employee’s performance it’s also important to consider what support you may be able to provide. Research relevant training or professional development resources that could provide a platform to help them improve. Knowing how to deal with difficult employees means knowing what resources might help them turn the situation around.

Monitor progress and follow upIt’s critical to give your employee sufficient time to take corrective action. During that time, they should know they are accountable and that you will be monitoring their progress. What happens next will ultimately depend on your employee. In the interim, don’t allow the situation to derail your focus or drive. In the longer term, working through issues such as these enables you to further develop the team building skills you need to be an impactful leader.

ALSO READ: Don’t be so quick to fire difficult employees

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