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Annoying employees - how to manage

How to deal with the five most annoying types of employees

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You asked for it, so we compiled it – Aditi Sharma Kalra speaks to five managers for advice on dealing with the constant complainers or those who always miss deadlines.

Last year, we wrote a story on our website,, called The 10 types of most annoying employees. We had a ton of feedback from our readers, who agreed with each type (and had a couple more of their own categories to add to that list).

But more than that, we had people discussing just how to handle these employees.

Every team has difficult staffers, and managing them can be a little tricky, while ensuring their annoying habits don’t impact the quality of their work.

Each of us may deal with them in our typical styles, but wouldn’t it be great to have a different perspective?

So for this column, I reached out to five managers to compile a list of helpful hints to ensure the five most annoying employee types remain productive. Here’s what my search threw up.

1. The one who always misses the deadline: Delays are an inevitable part of work life, and a good strategy would typically plan backwards to account for derailers.

One manager I spoke to said the first thing she does is find out the reason the employee has missed the deadline – is it a valid reason or a plain excuse from someone who’s losing interest in the job?

“I emphasise on the consequences of a missed deadline – that is, the effect on the overall team profitability, and delays cascading to other project stakeholders. I make sure the employee understands this is a critical task that needs to be achieved consistently,” she told me.

Coaching came up as a reasonable solution to get the employee thinking on more efficient ways of getting the task done, and defining an action plan.

2. The constant complainer: Need someone to find faults with everything in the office? Good if you mean an auditor, but bad news if it’s someone on your team.

“These can be the younger, more pampered ones, in my experience,” said another boss I spoke to, adding, “I have no choice, but to be quite direct and nip it in the bud.”

She explained: “This is the professional world and if you want to get on in life, sometimes (employees) just have to put up with things. I have to put this across as such and snap them out of it, where possible.”

3. The time wasters: Long coffee breaks, Facebook, and a bit of online shopping – the perfect Sunday, but what if this is your staff’s typical workday?

This manager, with people who report to him across geographies, keeps track of employees’ time by ensuring their KPIs are measurable through weekly reports.

“Those who fall behind in their KPIs will have to explain themselves. I’ll have to micro-manage such people, constantly checking up on them, while the rest of the team doesn’t need this kind of attention.

“Hopefully, the staff changes his/her attitude or I’ll have to change the staff.”

While managing on-site, an additional tip is to lead by example. “Most staff will take their cue from the actions of managers. If you are late, constantly on Whatsapp, or always taking smoke breaks, staff will slack off,” he explained.

4. The look-at-me employee: These are the employees that seek constant approval for their work, even for small things such as coming to work on time, but take criticism negatively when it is dished out.

The solution? One long-time manager said it helps to create a collaborative culture within the team, where taking inputs from each other is a habit, rather than a one-time, one-way session.

He makes use of team huddles to remind his team members that good ideas can sprout from peers rather than just from managers. This collaborative approval also makes sure feedback is timely and informally delivered.

5. The annoying workaholics: Long hours in the office is one thing, but what happens when someone in your team doesn’t spare either the weekends or the public holidays?

“You’d think that’s a happy problem for any manager, but it can be real annoying to get their Whatsapp messages long after you have shut shop for the day or when you are on a holiday,” said one seasoned manager.

Her plan A is to always have a back up or a secondary to-do list for such employees. Plan B? Say it as it is.

“Getting them more work is easy and, honestly, helpful too. But if they are the type to overwork and overthink, causing unnecessary stress, you’ve got to sit them down and tell them how their behaviour, while helpful overall, is causing distress within the team.”

In short: “Thanks dude, but it’s really not needed. Period.”

Image: Shutterstock

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Aditi Sharma Kalra

Human Resources Magazine Singapore
When not spending her time eating or watching dog videos, Aditi loves to read, write, and tweet about HR. She is managing print, digital and social content for Human Resources, across Singapore and Malaysia.

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