It’s inevitable. You hire someone with a good resume, who aced the interview, who seemingly picked up their training quickly, only to find out they’re a difficult employee. So what do you do when your employee isn’t doing what you asked of them, when they won’t or don’t respond to coaching, or they do things their way because they think they know best? Keep reading for tips to handle a difficult employee.
Listen. Listen to the employee and get to know their point of view. Your best chance at improving things comes from having the best possible understanding of what’s happening – including the point of view of the employee in question.
Give clear feedback. Instead of complaining about the situation or the employee’s performance, give them feedback. Even though giving feedback can be tough it arms the employee with specific information they to make improvements.
Document it! When you are having significant problems with a difficult employee, put pen to paper and write it down. Documentation can be very helpful in the event that you need to let that person go, but don’t think of it as a negative! Instead think of it as being cautious. Keep in mind that if you able to resolve the problem then that documentation can be filed away.
Consistency is critical. Set your standards and stick to them. If you have set a rule or standard in place, stick with it. Inconsistency sends mixed signals and causes confusion, and confusion leads to poor performance.
Set and apply consequences. When things are still not getting better, get specific on the actions you will take, and follow through with them. For example, if you have repeatedly given feedback to your employee about the office dress code, and they still haven’t complied, set a date and/or time and apply a substantial consequence. The consequence could be loss of eligibility for a promotion, a reduction in hours, a write-up that could lead to termination of employment, or something else that you deem appropriate, but you must follow through with it.
Don’t trash talk. As frustrating as a difficult employee is, don’t talk about them to other employees. You’ll lose the trust of other employees, cloud others’ perception of that employee, and make yourself look unprofessional.
If you’ve done the things that you are listed here, but are still having problems, then it just may be time to let the employee go. Follow your company’s procedures, whatever they are, and do it the right way. Don’t make excuses or put it off, and don’t have someone else do it. No matter the outcome, if you’ve followed these steps you’ll feel relieved knowing you did your best in a difficult situation.