Handling Difficult Employees – When Do You Step In?

Difficult employees are bound to show up at your company, it is just a matter of when it will happen. Difficult employees, when not dealt with, can negatively impact your corporate culture. This means that they will make co-workers feel uncomfortable in the office, will not complete their work on time, and cause plenty of other issues. We will explain when it is best to step in and handle a difficult employee, and when it’s good to let an employee go.

Never Ignore an Issue with an Employee

One of the first things you must avoid when dealing with difficult employees is ignorance. You cannot ignore an issue when it arises. You cannot ignore a problematic employee at work, especially if you are a manager, because it will be too late when you finally decide to intervene. The longer you let the problem fester, the more difficult it will be to fix it.

Get Involved as Quickly as Possible

As soon as you notice a negative pattern of behavior from an employee, you need to take action immediately. The quicker you take action, the more likely it is that you will be able to solve the issue and turn the employee into a positive force within the organization. There can absolutely be times when an employee does not realize what she is doing is causing negativity in the office. If this is the case, nipping it in the bud early is very important. Even if the employee knows what they are doing is negative, you still need to fix the problem quickly.

Research the Issue Well

You need to perform a ton of research about the employee and the reported issue(s) prior to holding a private meeting. You need to be armed with a lot of evidence against the employee that substantiates your claims of a negative behavior. When you do find it is time to address the problem, you must do so in a private setting. Do not talk with the employee in the break room or at his desk. Take them aside in your office, with the door closed, or in a conference room, with the door closed, and explain the situation to them.

Offer Help to Find Solutions 

Once you have displayed all of the evidence you have to the employee, you need to offer help. Find ways to help the employee fix their behavioral problems at the office so they can be a productive member of the staff without being disruptive. You will need to offer specific feedback for the employee if they are going to improve their behavior. You cannot just leave the conversation at, “it is time for you to make a change.” Let them know what they can do to make this happen.

Termination is the Last Straw

When push comes to shove, and the employee continues to be an issue even after multiple meetings, then you might just have to terminate their contract. If the employee continues to exhibit bad behavior due to a lack of effort, then she might need to be removed from the payroll of your company.

Dealing with difficult employees is never a walk in the park. The process needs to be handled with extreme care and plenty of professionalism no matter the issue at hand. Seek counsel from an employment lawyer for serious employee matters.

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