Effective tips for dealing with difficult employees

By Tiffany Rowe

As a small business owner, you’ll have a lot more face time with your employees than people who oversee larger enterprises. This means getting to know your team members on a personal level and becoming attuned to their respective demeanors and flourishes.

Of course, no matter how much faith you have in your staff’s abilities, some members of your workforce are going to be harder to deal with than others. While certain quirks are easy to overlook, there are some personality traits that can create hostile, high-stress work environments. Since you’re guaranteed to deal with problematic employees throughout your career, learning the dos and don’ts of handling them is sure to serve you well.

Address problems in a timely manner

When dealing with a difficult employee, the worst thing you can do is put off addressing any problems he or she may be causing. For example, if this person is drawing the ire of fellow team members, allowing these issues to linger can breed deep-seated contempt amongst your workforce. Not only can this create a tension-riddled workplace, it can also negatively impact productivity and overall quality of work. With this in mind, make a point of investigating and addressing issues caused by problematic workers posthaste. This will show your staff that you value their needs and are willing to prioritize their concerns. Whether the problems in question merit strict disciplinary action or a quick one-on-one, your team members are sure to appreciate your responsiveness.

Avoid jumping to conclusions

While it’s important to be prompt in addressing issues caused by difficult employees, it’s equally important to avoid jumping to conclusions. In fact, the more serious the accusation, the more meticulous you’ll need to be in your pursuit of the truth. So if an accusation is leveled against a problematic employee, you’ll need to talk to other team members to get to the bottom of the matter. Gathering input from your workers will also help you ascertain any underlying causes or motivations for the misconduct in question. This will also ensure that you have all the facts by the time you sit down with the offending party. If the matter requires serious action like suspension or termination, you’ll want to have all your ducks in a row.

Be a good listener

Some people are naturally abrasive and have trouble working in group settings. Unsurprisingly, working in close quarters with these individuals can be very trying for people with healthy social skills. Furthermore, collaborating with abrasive coworkers on group projects can be downright torturous. As such, if you’ve received complaints about an employee’s lack of décor or social graces, arrange a sit-down with this person and make them aware of the issue. One of the best qualities for a business owner to possess is good listening skills, and anyone who’s weathered the cost of an online MBA should understand the importance of worker input. After listening to what the person has to say, you may discover that any abrasiveness he or she displayed was purely unintentional.

Offer constructive feedback

Offering constructive feedback to difficult employees can be an effective way to set them on the right path and prompt them to rethink certain behaviors. When providing feedback, it’s a good idea to adopt a non-confrontational tone, especially if the employee’s offense doesn’t warrant serious disciplinary action. The harsher your tone, the more likely the offending party is to feel attacked, so make it clear that any criticisms you offer come from a place of genuine concern. If this person comes to see you as a confidante, he or she is likely to put any pointers you provide to good use— both now and in the future.

In a perfect world, every employee would be easy to interact with. However, as any seasoned entrepreneur can attest, this is the highest form of wishful thinking. As a small business owner, you’ll come across many types of employees, from the openly abrasive loner to the meticulously hardworking team player. Giving yourself the necessary tools for dealing with difficult team members will help quash workplace conflict and minimize miscommunication.


Tiffany Rowe is a leader in marketing authority, she prides herself in her ability to create and provide high quality content that audiences find valuable. She also enjoys connecting with other bloggers and collaborating for exclusive content in various niches. With many years of experience, Tiffany has found herself more passionate than ever to continue developing content and relationship across multiple platforms and audiences.


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