Managing and Motivating Difficult Employees

“When I finally got a management position, I found out how hard it is to lead and manage people.”  – Guy Kawasaki

Good leadership is not an inborn trait; it takes a person who is caring, fair and consistent, skilled in people management and willing to take responsibility for his or her team’s performance. A truly effective leader is knowledgeable about performance problems and willing to deal with them. Performance problems seldom correct themselves—it takes skilled intervention, including setting performance standards and goals for employees.

You can do it text on blackboard with businesssmanDifficult employees affect everyone in the workplace—their behavior not only inhibits their performance, but it negatively affects everyone in the work environment as well. When difficult employees and behaviors are not addressed, the behavior can become infectious and take on many forms like rudeness, bullying, gossiping, refusing to communicate or share information, whining and complaining to supervisors, ignoring directives and slow output of work or missed deadlines. Left unchecked, difficult behavior can inhibit performance in others and will only get worse.

You don’t want to come across as the bad guy – but the truth is, if you’re not effectively dealing with bad apples, you’re not being fair to anybody … including the apple.

Immediate steps to take with the employee

1. Young Japanese Businessman Asleep on a Mature Businessmans ShoulderGet HR involved—give them the facts and how the employee’s attitude or performance is affecting the department. Be specific.

2. Take the lead and open communication. Explore the reasons behind the unfavorable conduct—this starts with a private and candid conversation with the employee.

3. Directly tie the staff member’s negative behaviors to the department’s goals, functions and objectives

4. Do not discuss an “attitude” problem with the employee. Instead, give specific examples and discuss the relationship between the negative behavior and staff productivity and morale.

Immediate steps to take with the entire team

1. Encourage open communication as a two-way street

The Boss Thinks He Is Important2. Model ethical and other positive behaviors in your department

3. Clearly communicate to your team that not only are individual contributions important, so is a respectful, collaborative team environment, and everyone is expected to contribute to that environment

4. Make certain that project priorities are clear to everyone

It’s no secret that behavior in the workplace can strongly affect employee performance. Difficult, toxic employees can and will disturb and disrupt an otherwise positive workforce. In fact, they might disrupt it more than you think. It’s important to realize the ripple effect of poor performance on your team and how important it is to squelch negative behaviors and performance. It’s even more important to do something about it.

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