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  • Consultant at NHCS

How to handle DIFFICULT EMPLOYEES: 10 ways to Improve Performance on job


Employees are the main part of an organization. Without whom an organization is not complete. There are different kinds of employees some are easy to handle and some are DIFFICULT EMPLOYEES.

Working with DIFFICULT EMPLOYEES is many times very stressful and awkward for the leaders. It becomes difficult to handle these employees in the organization. Because of many such employees, other employees also get disturbed and start behaving the same as DIFFICULT EMPLOYEES do. It’s all the responsibility of the leader to handle and manage their employees.

What do DIFFICULT EMPLOYEES look like?

Disengaged/ DIFFICULT EMPLOYEES always lead to difficult behavior because of their frustration whether it is because of their workplace or because of their family/ personal life.

These types of employees may result badly for the organization. These may lead to a harmful environment and consequences may lead to higher staff with lower performance and in end poor customer relations.

10 Tips to Improve Workplace Performance:-

1. Criticize Behavior Not People- The main role of every leader is to check or point out misconduct of employees not to comment on their personal or emotional conversations. A leader must reach the solution instead of highlighting the issues and focusing on DIFFICULT EMPLOYEE's behavior not attacking them personally. It may not be the negative intention of employees behind their negative behavior. Negative behavior may be the result of any fear or personal problem.

2. Identify the Cause of the Problem- The leader must know the reason behind the misconduct of DIFFICULT EMPLOYEES. The reason may be their workplace environment, their relation or coordination with their colleagues. It may include their personal or family issues which stop them to work. As a leader, the main head of the team it is their responsibility to know the cause of misconduct.

3. Listen to Feedback- Leaders must listen to DIFFICULT EMPLOYEES in all ways which means they should discuss issues with each other. Ask about different problems and confirm the workplace issues that might result in their behavior. A leader must develop a safe place in which all can discuss their problems. Many times just talking to each other is a solution to many problems.

4. Give Clear Directions- A leader must help DIFFICULT EMPLOYEES to work easily by making a safe and clear path for the employee. He should guide them by giving straight directions of work on what to do and how to do it. He should also keep a watch on those special issues which may help the difficult employee to lower their aggressiveness.

5. Note Down Issues- A leader must write down all the issues that are caused by the DIFFICULT EMPLOYEES. If possible must write issues along with the date and time. This may help an organization in the time of some crisis when a difficult employee may raise an issue or sue a company for getting terminated.

6. Consult Heads of the Organization- Leaders must fix time-to-time meetings with Heads/ Managers of the organization. In which he may discuss the problems caused by the DIFFICULT EMPLOYEES. In the meeting, seniors can provide the solution on how to tackle the problem of these employees' behavior. Seniors will also let the leaders know the policies and processes of the organization on how to handle this stuff.

7. Work Together - The solution for a leader to tackle DIFFICULT EMPLOYEES is to start working with them. Get to know each other by working on the same job and together develop a solution on which both of you will agree. A leader must agree on any solution to the work so that DIFFICULT EMPLOYEES may feel protected.

8. Write down Expectations and Set Consequences- After all practices, a leader must set an expectation for the DIFFICULT EMPLOYEES and also convey the consequences of not fulfilling the expectations. Set a deadline/timeline for the improvement of DIFFICULT EMPLOYEES. Write down all expectations on a page sign it and get it signed by that employee. Both of you should keep a copy of the agreement for future reference. After conveying, plans/expectations for future leaders should also convey consequences to the difficult employee. Consequences may include a Written Warning, No Promotions, No Bonuses, No Incentives, and in rear conditions Termination from the job. Consequences must also be noted down on the agreement.

9. Monitor Progress and Recognize Hopeless Situation- When expectations and consequences are conveyed to the DIFFICULT EMPLOYEES then after that it is the work of the leader to monitor the progress of that employee. Get feedback from his coworkers about his behavior and work conduct. He should also make written observations and reports for transparency. After the assigned time is passed set an evaluation process to see how the situation has changed or not. If after all the efforts difficult employee doesn’t change his behavior then follow the laid consequences. Consequences in rear cases may result in termination from the job.

10. Stay Calm and Show Respect and Plan Ahead- Terminating any DIFFICULT EMPLOYEES is not easy this may give tensions and may also upset you. As a leader, it’s important to stay calm and show respect to every employee of his team. A leader should be honest and focus on facts. He should also know that sometimes people are difficult to handle as they feel unvalued and to overcome this behavior he should know the root cause before taking any harsh decisions.

To overcome this problem of DIFFICULT EMPLOYEES a powerful selection process must be followed. In the selection process, the hiring manager should undergo all checks and also use a different style of the interview in which behavioral interviews should also be done.


Dealing with DIFFICULT EMPLOYEES is a very hard task for any leader he must know/learn how to deal with these employees. The main key to a successful leader is to take a calm and equal approach to each employee. He should also communicate with all employees regularly and also get feedback from everyone from time to time. Before taking any harsh decision for an employee he should consider all factors carefully and must know the root cause of his misconduct in the organization.

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