Handling the managerial work itself is a very tricky task; this gets even trickier when you have to deal with one or more difficult employees at work. Almost every manager, now and then, comes across an employee who is not that great at obeying orders. He/she not only creates problems for you but also for other coworkers. A manager should know how to deal with these negative people at work and keep them in line. But before we discuss the solution, let’s try to understand some common types of difficult employees or the attributes that make an employee difficult.

Attributes and Types of difficult employees

There are many things that can be considered as the contributing factors for which an employee is regarded as difficult. Some of these factors include the following.

Any employee who doesn’t perform well is a problem for the manager and for the company. Employees who don’t like to follow orders or are difficult to deal with also fall into this category. Those, who cannot easily get along with their coworkers or managers, are also difficult to manage. Then, there are employees who usually mean well but do not act so. There are many other situations that can be regarded as difficult in terms of employee-manager relationship.

To be able to deal with such employees, you must first need to identify them. Difficult employees can usually be categorized into the following types.

  1. The Victim: the person who is always complaining to be the victim of every situation.
  2. The Hisser: They are usually calm and react only when provoked.
  3. The Negative Nellie: These people are always against every change or new policies.
  4. The Ghost: They always have an excuse when the actual work is supposed to be done.
  5. The Narcissist: They work for themselves and do not care about the team; not team players.
  6. The Einstein: The one who is probably the smartest person in the company. But since he/she knows it, their behavior usually comes across as arrogance.

List Source: Entpreprenuer.com

Why deal with difficult employees?

Wondering why difficult employees are bad for the company? Here’s why. A difficult employee not only creates continuous problems for the company management but also negatively impacts team performance and workplace environment. Negative attitude spreads like a virus that can impact more and more people in your organization. It is crucial to deal with these people on time and in the right way.

Almost every manager has to deal with these folks, spending a good amount of time and efforts in convincing them, pleasing them, and dealing with them one way or another. The most usual solution in such cases is to provide proper coaching to these employees about work etiquettes and other things. The ultimate solution is to let them go for good, which is also not a very easy task to do, especially when the employee is too difficult to handle. In this article, we will continue to discuss some more practical solutions to the problem of difficult employees.

Solutions for dealing with difficult employees

Many business websites and professionals will tell you several solutions for dealing with these difficult people. Yes, most of these solutions work in every situation, but the best way is to implement a specific approach based on the particular situation. Here, we will talk about some common solutions as well as some other solutions specific to the difficult situation/employee.

dealing with difficult employees

Not-to-do list

A “Not to do” list can be very effective when it comes to dealing with certain people in the company. The first item in this list can be Stop accepting excuses. The negative people like to make excuses whenever they do not feel like working. You need to stop accepting these reasons and show them who the Boss is. Another item to add to the list is Do not ignore. Stop ignoring the behavior and acts of these difficult employees, no matter how previous they are for the organization. Some other things that can be added to this list are Stop making others do your job; Do not hesitate in letting difficult people leave, etc.

Listen and Give Feedback

Instead of ignoring the situation, you should work towards improving it. Conduct a one-to-one interview with the person responsible, to clearly understand the situation and the reason why he/she is behaving this way. This not only allows you to understand the problem but also makes the employee feel trusted and cared. There might be some legitimate issues or problems behind their irregular behavior. Then, you can take proper actions to deal with the situation. It is also important to give proper feedback to difficult employees at the right time. Make it clear what you expect from them and what not.

Make a record of difficult employees and situations

Whether you are planning to solve the problem or let the difficult people go, you should have a proper record of all the situations where the behavior of one or more bad employees affected the team performance.

Dealing with Difficult employees

Dealing with specific types of difficult employees

When dealing with the Victim, the manager should implement the concept of accountability. By giving the person proper responsibilities, targets, and deadlines, you can expect them to get in line automatically.

To deal with the Hisser, you should try to understand the reason behind their behavior. Then, you can work on a performance plan to implement the change.

Negative employees are also important for the decision making process. One can handle them by coaching them to properly use their negativity in the right direction.

The best way to handle a Ghost employee is to have an honest face-to-face discussion with them.

If an employee cannot work in a team, see if you can make arrangements for him/her to work alone or with limited interaction. Alternatively, you can work with them to remove their hesitation and create the ability to work in a team.

Let the Einstein do one or two jobs on his own. This will help them understand the importance and role of the team for the successful completion of a task.


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