Farm4Profit Podcast

10 Tips for Dealing With Difficult Employees

Episode Summary

We dive into suggesting ways to deal with or coach a difficult employee. It may be a family member or one of non-relation, but it doesn't matter if their performance is poor. Listen to these tips to help make your farm more profitable.

Episode Notes

How to Deal with Difficult Employees: 10 Tips to Improve Workplace Performance

When a small business has an employee who is difficult to work with, it can drain productivity and create a hostile work environment. Business owners and managers need to demonstrate leadership and deal with difficult employees directly, discussing the behavioral and performance issues and creating a clear plan moving forward to address the issues. Managers should monitor the progress of difficult employees and if the performance doesn’t improve with feedback and resources, you may need to fire the problem employee for the sake of your business’s performance and the morale of other workers.

10 Ways to Deal with Difficult Employees

Addressing issues with a difficult employee can be stressful and awkward. Follow these ten tips for managing difficult employees to make the process easier and increase your chances of improving the situation:

Critique Behavior, Not People

It’s important that you don’t make the conversation overly personal or emotional. The end goal is to reach a solution to the problem, not to spark a confrontation. To do that, it’s important to focus specifically on inappropriate or undesirable behavior the employee has demonstrated rather than attack them personally. There may not be negative intentions behind their negative behavior. It might stem from confusion, fear or personal problems that you aren’t aware of.

Listen to Feedback

You should have a two-way conversation with the challenging employee. Listen to their feedback so you can understand where the problem lies and acknowledge any workplace issues that might be contributing to the negative behavior. Sometimes, just feeling listened to is enough for the employee to feel better and improve their behavior.

Give Clear Direction

Giving tough feedback can be a difficult task for managers, but it’s important that you give clear and specific examples of the negative behavior and explain why it’s inappropriate and how it has to change. Focusing on specific examples can help lower the employee’s defensiveness and offer useful information that can help them improve their workplace performance.

Document Problematic Behavior

Whenever you witness poor performance or troubling behavior, write it down in detail so you have a record of what happened and be sure to include the date. Proper documentation not only helps you remember and refer to specific events, it also protects your company in the event that the employee is let go and decides to sue the business for wrongful termination.

Consult the HR Department

Schedule meetings with the human resources team to discuss the situation. They can give advice on how to deal with the poor behavior, help you understand the documentation you need and provide a course of action for addressing the issue with the employee. HR will understand all the company policies and processes for handling difficult employees and terminating their employment, if necessary.

Work Together Toward a Solution

The ideal result when you discuss a difficult employee’s behavior with them is that the two of you work together to develop a solution you both agree on. Discuss the negative behavior, what the appropriate behavior looks like and then find out what the employee needs from you to improve. Agree upon a solution to the issue.

Write Down Expectations

Detail your expectations for what needs to improve and set a timeline for improvement. Write down a clear plan of action with a specific timeline and evaluation framework for measuring success. Sign the plan and have the employee sign it as well. You should both keep a copy of the document so the employee can use it to enact the plan and you can evaluate performance moving forward.

Set Specific Consequences

It’s possible that your plan for improvement with a difficult employee will fail if you don’t set clear consequences if the behavior doesn’t change within the agreed upon timeframe. Consequences can include a formal written warning, not being eligible for promotions or bonuses and in more severe situations, termination of their employment. Employees likely won’t change their behavior unless continuing it will affect them negatively.

Monitor Progress

Give your employee the time needed to correct their behavior. During that time, monitor their progress and make note of any issues or relapses. Check in as frequently as needed to get a better sense of how they’re progressing with the agreed-upon plan and intervene if they get off track. After the timeline from your plan has passed, schedule a full in-person evaluation to discuss how the situation has progressed.

Recognize a Hopeless Situation

While the goal is to improve the employee’s behavior so that your team can be more happy and productive together, realistically there will be times when that isn’t possible. If your previous interventions haven’t had the desired effect and the staff member is unwilling to change their behavior, you need to follow your company’s termination procedure and cut your losses.