Call our team on 01392 829400  |   Login

How to handle difficult employees

Written by Kimberley Startup | September 20, 2011 | 0 Comments

Difficult-employees-300x257In life, we all come across difficult people. Yet usually, they don’t present a problem. Nevertheless, when faced with a difficult person at work, nothing seems so challenging.

Work is such a big part of our life: both in terms of time spent there and how it influences our thoughts, actions and finance. And having to work with difficult employees has to be one of the most miserable experiences there is.  It decreases productivity, causes frustration, morale goes down and individuals (both staff and customers) get upset.

Ultimately, as a manager, it’s your responsibility to take the appropriate action to correct the problem. Whilst you may be tempted to fire them, research has shown that the best alternative is to learn how to handle the person and keep them in their job*. And the sooner you learn to deal with a difficult colleague – the better.

Here are a few tips to consider when faced with difficult employees.

Don’t ignore the problem

Assuming that the employee provides value to the company and possesses redeeming qualities, there are ways to deal with difficult people. Most managers will ignore problematic staff. Ignoring the situation is the wrong solution as it is likely that it will become a progressive problem.

Intervene ASAP

Take action as soon as the negative behaviour pattern becomes evident. Occasionally, the difficult employee has no idea that their behaviour is a problem. This is because most people tend to put up with the annoying behaviour and ‘go along to get along’.


Show the employee that you appreciate them. Reflect on their good qualities and valuable skills. Give regular honest feedback and discuss what could be improved. This gives them something to work towards, rather than something else to feel frustrated about.

Keep control of the situation

Difficult employees often find ways to undermine their leaders. For instance, if there is a member of your team who always interrupts you when speaking, simply state ‘please don’t interrupt me’ and pick up where you left off. This will immediately show that you won’t stand for that behaviour, because you’re in charge.

Have an open door policy

When people, and particularly difficult ones, feel that you are approachable, they are more likely to keep the communication flowing and less likely to let things simmer. Managers who ‘schedule’ every request give the impression that they aren’t really interested in staying connected with their employees.

Have you ever had to deal with difficult employees? How did you handle them? Share your tips with us.

Leave a Reply