Supervising employees is never easy, and some employees make it particularly difficult. These challenging employees can try your patience and drain a lot of your time and energy. Turning things around takes skillful management and patience.
You might, for instance, need to be prepared to deal with employees who:
- Goof off or are frequently absent or late
- Refuse to cooperate with you and their co-workers
- Break the rules
- Have a bad attitude
- Think they know more than everybody else, including you
- Spread rumors
- Display anger
So why not just fire these challenging employees? It seems like a logical answer. Sometimes it may seem to be the correct option. Often, it’s a shortsighted approach.
Even the most difficult employees can frequently be turned around with some patience and the right approach. By firing, you could deprive yourself and the organization of someone with a lot of potential. Often, these challenging employees are bright, talented, and capable.
You should also consider the time and cost of recruiting, hiring, and training a replacement. There’s also the cost of unemployment compensation benefits to consider – or worse, the cost of fighting a discrimination or wrongful termination lawsuit.
In the long run, it’s usually more cost effective to spend some time trying to turn a problem employee around.
It’s important to consider that employees who appear to be difficult may simply have a valid personality conflict with their supervisor or with someone in their working environment. A reassignment may solve that problem.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Act now! Don’t wait to start the conversation. Address the behaviors and actions sooner rather than later. Waiting gives the message that the behavior is acceptable. That message can often lead to an escalation.
- Active listening can be one of your most powerful tools in your manager’s toolbox. Put down your phone and turn off your internal chatter. Have a face to face conversation on neutral territory. So often we tune out our challenging employees for many different reasons. You may be surprised to learn they have real issues; not enough information or training to do their job, not having the right equipment, valid coworker issues, etc.
- Consistency is key. If during your conversation with your challenging employee, you tell them that something isn’t right or okay, make sure you don’t let them get away with that behavior sometimes and not at other times. Hold all your employees to similar standards.
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