How to deal with a difficult but productive employee
What you need to know:
- Once the employee is ready to listen to you, tell them why you called them.
- By this time you should already have allayed any fear they had so they will be eager to know the reason behind the meeting.
- This is the time to point out that annoying behaviour or attitude they exhibit. How do you go about it?
That some bosses have to deal with difficult employees is not in contention. As a manager, you may have come across an employee with a big ego that repulses everyone, or one with a terrible attitude. Yet, dismissing this employee may not always be possible. He or she could be the face of the organisation, or the workhorse behind the company's success. They may also simply be excellent at their jobs, but their attitude puts everyone off and affects team work, morale and productivity. How would you tell such an employee that his or her attitudes are affecting work relations without creating animosity? Always employ PSP, which stands for Praise, Show and Praise again in dealing with that problematic employee.
Consider setting up a meeting with such an employee when they are in their best moods, not when they are dealing with external pressure or facing tough deadlines. Otherwise you may encounter an entitled employee who can storm out the door, only to return with a pile of letters from lawyers who are intent on suing the organisation. During your meeting, be sure to praise the employee for notable contributions they have made, including the successes the organisation has seen due to his work. This will put the employee at ease, and will enhance their likelihood of listening to you to the end.
Say why you want them to do something
Once the employee is ready to listen to you, tell them why you called them. By this time you should already have allayed any fear they had so they will be eager to know the reason behind the meeting. This is the time to point out that annoying behaviour or attitude they exhibit. How do you go about it? Remember, some traits people have are based on upbringing or other factors they may not have a control over. Don't victimise the employee based on inherent characteristics. Just look at them as individuals.
As you request them to change, avoid pointing at them but instead try to understand why they act the way they do. Let's say that employee clocks in late but still delivers. Never accuse him or her of lethargy without finding the root cause of their lateness. If they are missing their targets, politely say that you believe they could do better. Who knows? They may open up and tell you what's preventing the desired outcome. Remember, social conditioning or programming differs from person to person and what you think is a bad attitude could be something else that requires intervention.
Praise them again
It may sound strange to keep praising an employee with a bad attitude, but that's what courtesy calls for. No, you're not massaging their egos, you are establishing good employer-employee relations. You don't want that employee to walk out of your office feeling guilty or inadequate. Remember that your goal is to avoid creating animosity. As in the beginning, praise them for their contributions, and tell them why they are valuable. Try to share funny anecdotes of your career journey and offer to mentor or guide them through the workplace culture if they're struggling to fit in. More importantly, never disclose to them which coworkers have lodged complaints against them to avert any desire for vengeance.