Mellow Management – 5 Tips For Dealing With Difficult Employees (Without Being A Boss From Hell)


People management can be challenging. Put a mix of different personalities into one team and ask them to work together, and there are bound to be obstacles to overcome. As a manager, it’s your job to work with each personality type and get the most from your staff. Are there people in your team who are more challenging to manage than others? Here are five tips to help you deal with them in a remote or face-to-face office environment.

Minimize Micromanagement with Smart Tools

We all know that micromanagement is the worst. It demotivates even the most dedicated employees and frequently results in productivity losses rather than gains. Instead of spending your day looking over people’s shoulders, you’re better off relying on time and attendance software for small business managers. Staff can clock in and clock out, giving you perfect insight into their work hours without having to ask. This kind of automation and autonomy is particularly beneficial if you are juggling staff members working remotely while others are in the office.

Have a Two-Way Conversation About It

Sometimes an employee’s poor performance at work might reflect a difficult time in their life or a glitch in your current business processes. Either way, you should try to have an open, honest, and non-confrontational conversation about what is going on. By being prepared to listen to their side of the story, you may gain some valuable ideas for improving your business, or at least building a better relationship with that member of staff. Even the simple act of showing that you care about what they think and are willing to listen to feedback is a great start.

Give Clear and Measurable Feedback

If you’re having troubles with a particular staff member, it can help to map out what is not working and what the expectations are for their role. The best feedback gives examples of occasions when the issue occurred and offers insight into their behavior’s impact. For example, if an employee has been sharing jokes that others deem inappropriate or offensive, giving examples of the effect on customers or other staff members will help provide context. Otherwise, the staff member may be quick to assume that their manager doesn’t have a sense of humor without realizing their behavior’s flow-on effect.

Ensure Consequences are Clear

If the staff member ignores all feedback and isn’t willing to work with you towards a solution, it is crucial to have clear and documented consequences. If an employee is repeatedly late and is causing disruption to the business, you could give them a written warning that if it happens three more times, they will lose their job. Just like parenting an unruly toddler, you then need to follow through with both the documentation of future misdemeanors and the promised punishment.

Don’t Let them Bully You

Having a challenging employee can be tough, and at times it might be tempting to give in and let them have their way. However, doing so will undermine your position as a leader and create resentment in the team. If they are making your life difficult, they are quite likely also making other people’s lives difficult. You need to step in and nip the behavior in the bud sooner rather than later to ensure this one person doesn’t create a toxic work environment for everyone else.

As a manager, you can’t bury your head in the sand. You need to directly address the problem or risk it damaging staff morale, or even worse, your company’s reputation.