How to Deal with Difficult Employees image

How to Deal with Difficult Employees

Staff Squared date icon7th June 2018

Tag iconManaging staff

You may have recently read about an incident in which an obsessed stalker, not content with keeping a ‘love diary’, took things one step further and camped outside his victim’s home for three days. How did he know where she lived? They were colleagues and their firm’s HR department gave him her home address. This is clearly a breach of trust and with GDPR on everybody’s mind at the moment, it doesn’t look great from a data protection point of view either.  This is the very definition of a difficult employee.

It may seem extreme but stalking is a real issue and as a responsible HR department you need to know what to do should one of your employees become a victim, whether the stalker is a colleague, a customer, or someone unrelated. Targets of stalkers can be under extreme stress and will be highly unlikely to be able to perform their job effectively. Stalking is also a cause of greater absenteeism. Of course, supporting an employee who is being stalked will be of huge comfort to them personally too.

Having a policy to deal with difficult employees is vital if you’re to limit the amount of time you spend dealing with the problems they cause. From upsetting other staff to being rude to clients to giving your company a bad name, a hard-to-handle employee can have serious negative impact in the workplace. So how do you deal with someone who refuses to play nice ?

Ignoring the problem – tempting as it is – is going to make matters worse. However, you need to approach the issue in an unbiased manner by giving the employee a fair hearing. Ensure you’re not viewing them through the lens of someone else’s personal dislike. Ask why are they being difficult? Is it a job issue? External problems? Could they need your support too?

If the employee is being difficult because they’re an abrasive or unpleasant person you need to firmly set them on the path to better behaviour in the workplace. Be constructive and explain what the issue is and illustrate why their actions are causing problems. After all, it’s affecting your business as well as their career. Tell them exactly what they need to do to improve and ensure you stick to company policy, in case things deteriorate further down the line.

It’s also important you document your meetings and keep records of their bad behaviour should you need to dismiss them – especially if they decide to take you to tribunal. On a positive note, they may be able to turn things round and become a valued and productive member in the workplace.

You can find out more information on how to deal with difficult employees in our guide to managing HR. Either read the webpage or download a free eGuide here.

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