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Dealing With Difficult Employees

by fatweb


By Dr Mary Casey

Every manager knows the frustration of a difficult employee in the workplace —
from the late starter to the incessant whinger.

While diversity in a workplace can bring the best set of skills to the business, managers need to be alert to any behaviour which can harm the business and its culture, says a leading workplace communications expert.

Most managers, at some point, have had to deal with an employee who has soured the workplace culture, reduced productivity, wasted time or discredited co-workers.

When dealing with a difficult employee, what works for one may not work for another.

As no employee is the same, you need specific strategies to most effectively deal with their personalities.

The most beneficial action a boss can do when dealing with any employee’s behaviour is giving them feedback on it immediately and holding them accountable. Ensure you keep communication open and flowing.

The seven difficult employee types and strategies for dealing with them are:

The seducer:

Strategic friendships and allegiances is the goal for these types — they pick and choose their networks to benefit their careers. These relationships are self-serving and damaging to business. They praise you, compliment you and may even buy you small gifts in order to manipulate and seduce. Being aware of this type of behaviour is the first skill employers require, because we all love praise and compliments and we therefore easily get caught up with this kind of manipulation. Set strong boundaries for acceptable behaviour with other employees.

The back-stabber:

These employees discredit their co-workers and take credit for more work than they have done. This kind of behaviour highlights a deep insecurity in these employees. An employer’s best strategy is to be open to feedback from other employees and confront the employee with what they have said or done — let them know their behaviour is unacceptable. Be unemotional. It is a good idea to speak to them in private because, being insecure, they don’t cope with confrontation or assertiveness.

The social networker:

An addiction to Facebook, Twitter or mobile phones will have significant effects on the productivity of any employee. Set a strong policy for internet usage, specifically outlining boundaries on social networking as it is a new phenomenon. Ensure it outlines consequences for abusing the policy. With a strong policy, you can hold your employee accountable when they are caught online.

The martyr:

These people blame everything and everyone rather than take responsibility for something that they have or haven’t done. They have a “poor me” attitude and try to make those around them feel sorry for them. They use this behaviour to manipulate. Keep these people responsible by putting the onus back onto them. Put your concerns in writing, outlining the exact details of their behaviour and how it negatively affects the company culture.

The iceberg:

Cold and non-communicative, these employees rarely keep you or their team up to date on their work, don’t contribute in meetings and keep to themselves along with any information they may have. Dealing with these types takes courage and assertiveness. Ask open-ended questions so that they are forced to give you information. If they often answer ‘I don’t know’, a good tactic is to ask ‘What if you had to guess?’ or ‘What if you did know?’”

The tardy employee:

These employees keep to their own clock — they might arrive late, take long lunchbreaks, leave right on time or make regular personal appointments during work hours. Tardiness should be addressed in a professional manner. Explain that their behaviour shows lack of commitment and hurts morale by letting

co-workers see that they are breaking the rules, while the rest are doing their part to obey them. If they have a good reason for coming in late — such getting young children off to school or study commitments — find a compromise between their schedule and work that won’t affect the business or productivity and is seen to be fair by everyone.

The offloader:

They ensure they have very little work on their plate while making themselves look very busy and important in front of their managers. When given a brief, they quickly make it someone else’s responsibility by briefing a junior or bringing another employee to each briefing. Often these employees are not confident in themselves to do the job, although they can be very confident communicators. It’s important that a clear and detailed job description and specific KPIs form the basis of their performance appraisals.

Dr Mary Casey (Doctorate of Psychology)
is CEO of Australian leading health and education organisation, Casey Centre.

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