Dr Mary Casey (Doctorate of Psychology), a conflict resolution specialist, is the founder and CEO of the Casey Centre, a leading integrated health and education service. Visit www.caseycentre.com.au
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.
When dealing with a difficult employee, what works for one may not work for another and, as no employee is the same. You need specific strategies to most effectively deal with their personalities.
So here are some strategies for dealing with seven difficult employee types
The seducer: Strategic friendships and allegiances is the goal for these types – they pick and choose their networks to benefit their careers. They praise you, compliment you and may even buy you small gifts in order to manipulate and seduce. We all love praise and compliments, so it is easy to get caught out by 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. 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.
The martyr: These people blame everything and everyone rather than take responsibility. 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.
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. 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 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. If they have a good reason for coming in late, find a compromise between their schedule and their work that won’t affect the business or their productivity that 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. 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.