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Frustrations dealing with difficult employees coincide with many management issues – teamwork, morale, organizational dysfunction and weak customer relationships – just to name a handful. And they all lead to loss of profit.

With a difficult employee, you have two obvious problems – the impacts on your organization and the behavior of the individual. So what do you do about them?

Lest I forget: Make sure you document everything for a paper trail.

Take the following steps:

1. Assess the situation.

Research the environment to learn the causes and effects.

2. Evaluate your role.

You need to consider what you’ve done right and wrong as a manager. For example, have you been too passive or shown favoritism?

That also means considering how and why the toxic employee was able to join your team in the first place.

Surely, if you know for which to look, there were red flags in the interview process.

Set some goals for yourself and take action to improve your performance as a manager.

3. In coaching the person, keep the focus on principles not personalities.

Your job is to make certain each employee performs well. Behind closed doors start by asking if your employee knows of any issues adversely affecting the organization. Then, ask the person what she or he thinks about it.

If it appears the employee is cognizant of the issues, ask the person to take ownership and develop a plan that will result in a satisfactory performance. Don’t settle. Make sure all points are covered.

With a difficult employee, you have two obvious problems – the impacts on your organization and the behavior of the individual.

If the person is unaware or seemingly reluctant to work for improvement, state how the behavior has negatively impacted the organization. Criticize the behavior not the employee.  

You can dictate an improvement plan, but it’s a more compassionate approach and you’ll increase the odds for success if the person is an active participant.

Make certain your expectations are clearly stated with a firm timeline.

Hint: If the issues are severe involving multiple employees, you might have a cultural problem. If that’s the case, then six steps are needed for a cultural change. It’s a monumental chore and you’ll likely need an outside participant.

4. Monitor the employee.

Watch for improvement. Give feedback. Use positive reinforcement for any and all improvement. You’ll boost the person’s morale and you will see an improved performance.

Don’t keep bringing up the past unless it’s absolutely relevant.

From the Coach’s Corner, additional management tips:

Human Resources: 12 Errors to Avoid in Evaluations – Now that it appears the recession has ended, questions may arise about human resources. What to do now? Here are the answers. 

20 Tell-Tale Signs – If You’re Under-Performing as a Manager – Whether new or experienced, managers can often struggle. Poor management, of course, leads to poor performance. As red flags, under-performing managers share one of two common traits with ineffective employees. Such managers aren’t fully aware of their shortcomings. Even if they are aware of deficiencies, they’re afraid to admit it. 

How You Can Eliminate Destructive Conflict for Better Teamwork – For better employee-team decision-making and higher performance, it’s true that constructive conflict works. Usually, the best ideas evolve when ideas are discussed and debated. But when employees fail to exercise self control and their egos get in the way, emotions flare and cliques are formed in the workplace. 

13 Management Tips to Solve Employee Absenteeism – Absenteeism causes migraines for a lot of bosses. Obviously, your company will make healthier profits, if you don’t have an absenteeism problem. Check your attendance records. Monday is the most-abused day of the week and January is the worst month for absenteeism. 

HR Management – 8 Best Practices in Employee Delegation – Avoid frustration in delegation. Save yourself time and develop your staff for the welfare of your organization.   Delegation is a fundamental driver of organizational growth. Managers who are effective in delegation show leadership. 

“Management is nothing more than motivating other people.”

-Lee Iacocca


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is also a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.