How to Deal with Difficult Employees


Difficult employees are an inevitable part of every company and it is up to management to deal with them, right? Well, despite all other tasks which need to be handled by the managers, the fact is that such issues are an extra burden and often times are unintentionally (or intentionally) avoided. The initial issue comes from employees who spread negativity including spreading rumors about co-workers, undermining or talking behind management’s back, or simply not doing their work. To make things even more complicated, in some cases difficult employees are actually productive and do all of their work. So, what can you do while they continue to affect you and your team with their irritable behavior?


Experienced managers should eventually have to consider the following techniques and principles in order to deal with an employee who doesn’t contribute to making their own workplace a good work environment.

  •  Do Not Delay Solving the Issue - Take Immediate Action!

 Instead of being preoccupied with other issues such as paperwork (if and when it can be put off for later), managers should deal with a difficult employee from the very beginning before anything evolves into a larger issue. Once you solve the problem from the start, you will cut the issue its very core. Managers who avoid confrontation are going to have to deal with the issue when it gets more serious, which nobody will find pleasant, right?

  •  Instead of Assuming, Carefully Reassure Yourself and Give Feedback

 It is unacceptable and unprofessional to make judgments and decisions based on rumors or assumptions. Do not try to get to the real situation by asking your colleagues about their perception and impressions about the behavior of a problematic employee. To deal with a difficult employee you have to have at least one private conversation with them and find out the reason for their actions. The cause can be anything, starting from personal issues to difficulty coping with the load of work or dissatisfaction with the conditions your company provides. Nonetheless, you have to figure out whether the difficult employee has an issue catching up with their workload or whether there is something else which is preventing the employees from getting their work done. According to the issue, you have to approach the situation differently.

No matter the cause, you should approach your employee in friendly and professional manner; try to understand them and put yourself in their shoes. One wise approach would be to entitle the difficult employee to assist you with some of your projects, so it will be easier for you to keep an eye on them. By giving them such a responsibility, they will feel respected and appreciated and hopefully will fix and change their destructive behavior. 

  • Set Warnings and Consequences

 Setting warnings and making your employees aware of the future consequences they would have to deal with if they do not adhere to the rules is a good place to start. What you have to bear in mind in order to make this point work is that you have to be precise and specific about the aspects in which they’ll need to improve themselves. For instance, you can require them to make a change to their toxic behavior by a given date. Gossiping, teasing or interrupting others at work, should be strictly forbidden and anyone who disrespects these basic principles should be addressed with measures of precaution. 

  • Keep Them Passionate About Their Work 

As a manager, it is your obligation to think of practical solutions that will keep your employees busy, enthusiastic and passionate about their work so they don’t have the time nor temperament to be concerned with non-productive gossip or act destructively. Setting a positive tone and atmosphere at the workplace will improve employee morale; for example: celebrating birthdays together, a raise in their paycheck, offering them some extra benefits, awards and even some praising words, as well as team building events where employees can get together in a different surrounding outside the office. There are various of ways in order to motivate your employees, but the most important one is to be a passionate leader with vision yourself, so they’ll follow your example.


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