May 5, 2021

9 useful tips on how to deal with difficult employees

Tips on how to deal with difficult employees

How to deal with difficult employees? Quite hard, isn’t it?

Not everyone can be a manager. It may sound fascinating as a title, the perks it involves but believe it or not working yourself is easier than managing people. You may learn to operate machine or robots in some days, but for handling people require continuous efforts. It may become a pain of the throat when you have difficult employees to manage.

Dealing with difficult employees is something that needs brief working on the problem and then tailors a solution accordingly. Again execution of those solutions would not be easy because human as a whole is a complex creature, both physically and mentally. We are not discussing the anatomy of the human body here but the complexities of behavior at the workplace.

Who are those difficult employees

Difficult employees are the people who do not work professionally or responsibly. Usually, such employees are identified in small businesses. Although the ratio of these employees is much less than those of responsible ones, however, the impact of their behavior may affect the overall environment of a company, inside and outside.

These behaviors are observed through their language, conduct with other colleagues and clients of a company. Other of their misconducts may include, laziness, unprofessionalism, inappropriate dressing at the workplace, taking work for granted, etc. Typically they have a lack of motivation towards their work.

Steps on how to deal with difficult employees

Statistically, there is at least one member in a team or department, displaying behaviors as difficult ones. Getting rid of that difficult employee either from a department or from a company is not the solution. Firing may get you relief from dealing with them on regular basis but it’s not an act of a good manager.

Good companies keep their employees happy and one secret includes that they know to manage their difficult employees well. Let’s have a look at some of the ways or steps for how to deal with your difficult employees?

Take responsibility

Instead of labeling them as toxic members of your team, understand that as a manager you are meant to manage and handle them. A person is given a position of assuming that he can manage a team or department well and motivate them to work towards the growth of an organization.

I have first handedly witnessed that a manager targets, certain people, to put blame on, or belittle them. What if you are asked if it’s your employee who is being difficult or is it you finding someone you can suppress and put your failures on?

Documenting issue

Putting down a problematic behavior in black and white is a good way. By writing in detail, you better understand and narrate a behavior that is calling for your attention. This may take you to the events which caused such behavioral display by your team member. Documentation of such matter may help in avoiding and better handling of such issues in future as well.

Add details that include present behavior, expected behavior, and allot a time frame to execute this task and obtain results. Detailing helps in keeping a check on the progress as well. The practice of documenting is also helpful in case you need to consult others to in helping to resolve the issue. HR people are trained to resolve such situations and aligning them with the policies of their organization.

Ascertain, not assume

Ignoring difficult employees is the worst thing any manager can think of. When you observe any inappropriate behavior by your employee, work it out. Many employees confront and brag about their misconduct openly, which spreads negativity and decreases the morale of other employees as well. This may result destructively and even contributes to losing your clients and reputations.

Assuming such biased behavior as their personality trait and ignoring them will only result in an overall disturbance. Arrange a personal meeting to ascertain the motive behind it. Many employees take out the frustration of their personal life at the office. Don’t assume that their personal matters are to be solved by them when it is already affecting your official environment.

A good organization provides counseling to such employees. They arrange sessions to help them maintain a balance in professional and personal life.


Understand that their unprofessional behaviors are just symptoms. You need to dig a little deep to know the reason for their difficult behaviors. Holding a private casual meeting to learn the underlying cause behind their unsuitable behavior is important. Having one on one conversation helps manage the root of the problem.

Communicate a timeline to your employee for improvement. Help him during this phase, provide any help if required, and monitor his progress. Most of the time employees just need to be heard. Once they have poured their mind or hearts out, it lightens up their urge and normalizes their behaviors.

Right people at right places

Just like monkeys cannot swim and fishes cannot climb. Some employee acts difficultly because they are placed incorrectly. For sure they are hired after a proper screening but that doesn’t mean to restrict or force them to be a part of a department they don’t properly fit in. Changing their placement may change their nature from difficult to productive ones.

Our ex-manager brought an employee from finance department to marketing one. It created a certain gossip in the marketing department on having a member who holds a total degree i.e. finance. The chain was broken when that particular employee brought high-paying clients within a few months. Right people at the right places work wonders

Generalize instead of personalizing

When the meetings are held to discuss glitches in organizational processes or workplace ethics, generalize problems. By generalizing issues including improper behaviors, a manager tries to avoid making a certain employee responsible for problems. Highlight misconducts and their effect on the workplace environment. Offer or ask them only to provide a solution to a specific problem.

Make them part of the solution to come up with a win-win situation. This makes an employee feel that management is trying to overcome his shortcoming and hiding his mistakes. Also, this practice of empathy keeps an employee from being in a defensive state. This feeling of being taken care of may revert them to work responsibly.

Regulate a healthy and fair workplace

Many employees are competent enough; it is their unaddressed talents that make them unmotivated and behave problematically. As a manager, monitor and reward their efforts fairly, regulate an environment where employees are treated with respect and equality. Often white-collar people find it hard to ask for respect or to ask for rewards, they think they deserve.

Conduct a regular survey to know if they are facing problems while working, this is a great help to know what expectations your employees secretly hold with you. As it says that highly productive employees cannot perform in an unhealthy environment for longer.


Some employees act difficult because they are not aware of the cost involved. This type of difficult employee is not much difficult to handle. All they need is to know what impacts their behavior on their appraisals including the penalties they may get entitled to. This may sound like a school-type thing and bring them on track by scaring with punishments but works.

Talk to them in person or issue a showcased letter to them. Give them a certain time or task to show appropriate and acceptable behavior at the workplace.

Unmanageable employees

Bear in mind that as a manager you are accountable to handle difficult employees along with other organizational tasks. However, it doesn’t mean that you get carried away while dealing with them and lost your own sense of direction. If your stats show that even after trials, that an employee is not displaying improvement or is unwilling to change, take a needed step.

You cannot afford to keep a disturbing environment at the workplace due to a hopeless employee. This may call you to resign them from a specific task or even process the termination of such an employee. Managing unmanageable often serves as an example for others for communicating limits to observe in an organization. This keeps a fair and healthy environment at the workplace.

What it takes to manage difficult employees

Apart from the ways to deal with your difficult human resource, it may require a high level of patience and skills. Just remember that you aim to bring a solution to the aforesaid issue for keeping a progressive and productive workplace environment. Avoid being personal, frustrated, or getting angry on sorting on how to deal with difficult employees and maintain your professional protocols as a leader.


Managing to deal with difficult behaviors by employees is the most crucial part of a manager’s job. Understanding, documenting, and planning a course of action for addressing such issues needed to be executing with a timeframe in order to keep track of progress. Intervening in the process and helping your employees to work on a win-win solution is a practice of many prestigious managers and organizations.

Managing unmanageable may get on a manager’s nerves. It is significant for a manager to handle difficult employees while keeping professionalism and maintaining his honor.

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