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Four top tips to manage difficult employees

Four top tips to manage difficult employees (Last Updated On: May 11, 2016)

All employers will be faced with a difficult employee at some point. If left unmanaged, difficult employees may negatively impact workplace culture, or even your business’s productivity.

There are many reasons why an employee may prove difficult. They may be struggling to keep up with their workload, lack job satisfaction or the skills to effectively perform their job. Employers will need to investigate to get to the root of the problem and find a remedy.

Below are four top tips to manage difficult employees in your workplace.

1. Communication is your most effective tool

It is easy to become frustrated when dealing with a difficult employee, but your best chance at improving the situation is to understand why it is occurring in the first place. Your employee may feel as if they have no career progression, or do not receive feedback for a job well done. Open up the lines of communication with your employee to discover whether there is any action you can take to solve the problem.

2. Skill vs will matrix

At Employsure we believe in the skill vs will matrix. This allows employers to determine whether it is an employee’s lack of skill making them difficult, or they are willfully refusing to carry out their responsibilities. An employee who lacks skill can receive additional training in order to improve, while a willfully difficult employee understands their duties, yet chooses to neglect them. The skill vs will matrix will help you determine whether to invest the time and effort into a particular employee, or make the decision to terminate them.

3. Performance management

When an employee is being difficult, they may need to be performance managed. This is the process by which an employee is provided with the opportunity to improve, learn and develop. When deciding to performance manage an employee, ensure you follow a fair process, which includes:

  • establishing all details and facts. There may be an underlying problem as to why your employee is not performing to your required standards. Identify the problem and what is causing your employee to act out
  • once you have a sound understanding of the issues arrange a meeting with your employee, ensuring they are fully briefed on why it is taking place
  • implement a performance improvement plan. Once you and your employee are clear on the issues and your expectations, you both will need to work towards an agreed solution

4. Issue your employee with a warning

An employee may be issued with a warning which states their behaviour or conduct is not acceptable to the workplace. This warning can be verbal or written, and must inform the employee of what they have done wrong. Warnings are an effective way to alert employees to areas that require improvement, or where their conduct does not meet the workplace standard.

The written warning should:

  • clearly describe the performance issue or other problems in specific detail and, if applicable, attach documents which support your conclusions
  • outline previous steps taken to familiarise the employee with the issue (training undertaken, performance appraisals, previous disciplinary actions taken)
  • outline the impact and consequences of the problem

Sometimes however, a difficult employee will not improve and may need to be removed from the workplace. In this case, it is important to seek advice before making the decision to terminate them.

If you are considering taking any action against an employee, contact Employsure on 1300 651 415. Our team of specialists can assist with any questions you may have regarding difficult employees, performance management or termination.



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