From emotional drama queens to lazy slackers, all of these aggravating folks can be considered “challenging employees” — people who consume an inordinate amount of your time and energy, but are not really bad enough to fire.
Have you been tolerating their behavior? How long has this been going on?
4 reasons managers hesitate to confront obnoxious employees
Sometimes managers recognize why they tolerate habitually impolite employees, and sometimes they don’t. Here are four reasons managers put up with such behaviors:
1. “But he/she is one of my top performers.” Managers may fear productivity would drop and the worker would be difficult to replace. Perhaps the employee has a special technical skill or valuable institutional knowledge. None of these are good reasons to tolerate unprofessional behavior.
2. “It’s not worth the conflict.” Management, when executed correctly, involves plenty of face-to-face conflict. But if those interactions are handled correctly, both sides walk away feeling satisfied. Managers can always seek advice from HR before initially bringing up the issue to the employee.
3. “Maybe he/she will change.” Don’t count on it. Use HR as a partner to point out the employee’s errors and deliver the appropriate warnings.
4. “His/her skills are worth the headache.” Don’t look at this person’s poor behavior in a vacuum. While he or she may still be productive, it’s quite likely an employee’s obnoxious behavior is pulling down the morale and performance of co-workers. Don’t cling to the notion that any employee is too talented to be disciplined or even fired.
Learn: 7 rules for disciplining rule-breakers, the ABCs of feedback, how to create a positive work environment, 5 mistakes managers make that cause workers to dig in their heels, and how to formulate an action plan to deal with even the most infuriating employees...
7 tips for supervising 'difficult' personalities
1. Focus on what you want to happen, not on how you feel. The emotional response will kick in first, but the trick is not to act on it.
2. Be assertive. Don’t expect an employee to read your mind. Let him or her know when you’re annoyed, upset or disappointed.
3. Give and request frequent feedback. Don’t stew over what an employee may be thinking. Ask.
4. Model the type of behavior you want. Exhibit the kind of upbeat, forward-looking professionalism you expect from your staff.
5. Deal directly and discreetly. Choose face-to-face talks in private to discuss an employee’s attitude or behavior.
6. Always document. Keep a record of all communications to prevent lies or faulty recollections from taking over later.
7. Be gracious. Someone’s rudeness doesn’t give you the right to respond in kind.
Don’t think it’s worth it to single out a struggling worker and take time out of your busy schedule to help? Consider the potential results if you DON’T confront problems:
- Loss of productivity. Poor performers do only about a third of the work of average employees.
- Loss of business. Clients who have to deal with difficult employees may take their business somewhere else.
- Loss of time. It can take you twice as long to supervise a poor performer.
- Loss of talent. If your other employees don’t think you’re managing well, they might find other work.
- Loss of self-esteem. Managers who blame themselves for workplace problems can feel less self-confident.
- Rule violations. Certain behaviors can put employees at risk.
Still not convinced Troublesome People at Work can help you improve your organization? Think about this: How much is an hour of your time worth? How much does your most difficult worker earn? Add these two together and you’ll get the cost of an hour of supervision.
If Troublesome People at Work can save you even an hour of supervisory time, it’s already paid for itself. And remember, it can even save you the high cost of a termination-related lawsuit.
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