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Dealing with difficult staff
07 March 2011
Let's face it, if life as a business owner was meant to be easy, then we would all be running our own businesses making squillions of dollars, with the BEST team of people supporting us. In reality, once your business starts to grow and you employ staff, it gets even harder, as we are all individuals with different personalities and skills, and it can be very easy to make the mistake of interpreting those differences, as a \"difficult\" personality. That being said, you will find that you WILL have to deal with a truly difficult employee at some point. Firstly, there will always be difficult employees. Secondly, it IS your job to deal with them, whether directly or indirectly. If you fail to deal with them, then it only gets worse.
Below are a few tips on how to manage a difficult employee:
Always get the facts! Do your homework and collect the facts before taking any action. Never base your actions on gossip and rumour, however gossip and rumour is a separate problem that needs to be dealt with separately. If you haven't seen anything inappropriate yourself, then ask the people involved for facts before taking any action.
Act promptly Failure to act promptly leaves the \"difficult\" employee with the belief that their behaviour is acceptable as they haven't been challenged. The sooner the issue is addressed, the sooner it will be resolved.
Look in the mirror first Make sure you aren't contributing to the problem with your own difficult behaviour. It will be virtually impossible to hold a productive discussion and remain impartial, if you are in fact partly responsible. If that is the case, you must acknowledge your contribution to the behaviour, even if only to yourself.
Plan for a meaningful discussion Schedule a meeting with forward notice allowing the employee to deal with any time critical work issues. You will need to decide whether others are required to attend the meeting (ie HR advocate/advisor). Take the meeting off site, if it cannot be undertaken without interruption on site.
Deal with the behaviour, not the person The aim of the discussion is to develop a solution, not to \"win\" an argument. Focus on the difficult or inappropriate behaviour, never attack the person.