Based on my consultations with supervisors at all levels, supervisors dislike dealing with conflict and difficult workplace issues more than just about any other aspects of their jobs.
How do you learn to deal with a variety of difficult employee issues in a way that doesn’t make a bad situation even worse?
Here are a few tips:
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1. Immediately communicate what is unacceptable behavior when dealing with difficult people in the workplace.
2. Quickly work towards identifying the root of the problem or workplace issue. Ask questions so that you can understand all aspects of the situation.
Is your employee frustrated that they don’t have the resources that they need to perform in their job? Could they be frustrated because you are not accessible to help them with questions or issues? Is there a misunderstanding between co-workers? There is no excuse for inappropriate behavior in the workplace, but you still need to understand the underlying concerns of your difficult employees so that you can more effectively address the issue and their behavior.
3. When confronted with a difficult employee issue, talk with your employee one on one and give your employee crystal clear guidelines on how and why they need to improve their behavior.
Difficult employees and issues cause disruption to the workplace and make co-workers feel frustrated, insecure, even threatened in some instances. Incorporate into your discussion with your problem employee what the impact is of their negative behavior. Set a time frame for improvement.
4. Don’t send mixed messages or make our employees read between the lines. Spell out what you want the employee to do to change the behavior and what the consequences are if the behavior doesn’t change.
5. Don’t negate the importance of monitoring your employees after problems surface to make sure that any issues that have been addressed don’t resurface. It’s a good management practice to let the employee know that you will be following up.
6. Be sure to acknowledge positive changes as a way of showing your support and acknowledging the fact that your employee is doing his or her part to correct their inappropriate behavior.
7. Don’t be afraid to fire employees who continue to wreak havoc in the workplace; especially after repeated coaching. Be sure that you document all conversations with employees and apply any discipline consistently and fairly.
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