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How To Handle Difficult Members Of Staff


In a perfect world every member of your team would be hard working, dedicated and have a positive attitude. But unfortunately this isn’t always the case and every now and then you may find yourself up against difficult employees.

Preparing yourself with the skills you need to be an effective manager through training and online business courses is a great first step. But what happens when you’re on the front line and it’s time to put these skills into practice!

If you’ve found yourself up facing a challenging member of staff (or perhaps a few members of staff), here’re five simple steps to help you combat the problem.

1. Tackle the problem head on.

Though it can sometimes feel easier to simply brush the problem aside, particularly if you’re not being directly affected, leaving the problem to worsen can have a more damaging impact further down the line. Instead, it’s best to address difficult members of staff right away.

Addressing any problems head on means you can ensure that all members of the workforce are happy and hardworking, and those that aren’t are dealt with in an appropriate manner.

2. Communicate effectively with your staff.

When it comes to managing difficult staff, there could be a number of reasons for their behaviour. Therefore, you need to keep the lines of communication firmly open if you hope to identify and address the problem. You also need to be clear with them about what will happen if there behaviour doesn’t change.

Organise a catch up with those involved. Create an open space where employees can be honest about any issues they may be having at work. Whether that’s because they’re no longer happy in their role, they’re bored at work or they can’t get along with their colleagues. Whatever the issue may be, identifying the problem is an important first step.

3. Put a plan in place to address the problem.

Once you’ve given your staff the chance to have their say and have hopefully discovered where the problem lies, it’s time to put a plan in place. This might mean re-thinking their workload, changing their daily tasks or offering more support/training. Put some practical steps in place to show your employee that you’re invested in them and working to combat the problem.

At this stage, you must also explain to them the actions you’ll have to take if their behaviour doesn’t change. After all, it’s good that they’ve told you why they’re unhappy or have been acting up at work, but if they’re not prepared to fix the problem, it might be time for them to move on to a job they’ll be more committed to.

4. Provide constructive feedback and be prepared to issue a warning.

As well as giving your employees a chance to be honest, you need to be honest with them in return. Once you’ve put measures in place to improve their behaviour, you need to offer feedback. Organising regular catch-ups gives you a chance to find out how your staff are getting on, if they feel any better and if their behaviour and feelings towards their work have changed at all.

If you’re still facing difficulties or they seem reluctant to even try and fix the problem, it might be time to issue a formal warning. This will of course depend on the attitude of your employee, if they are trying hard to fix the problem – then great! But unfortunately there will be times when it would be better for both parties if they found another position.

5. Keep a record of everything.

It’s helpful to keep a record of your meetings with difficult staff for a number of reasons. Firstly, to keep note of any problems they may have or feedback they might have given about your company. Secondly, to keep track of the steps you put in place to help things improve and how you’ll be assessing if their behaviour has changed. This will help you to provide them with constructive feedback.

But finally, if push comes to shove and you need to let your employee go, you need to make sure you have a good reason for doing so. Keeping a record of all your meetings, the plans you’ve put in place and the progress of your employee can act as a safety net should they challenge your decision to ask them to leave. But let’s hope that doesn’t happen!