managing difficult employees

September 16th 2018

It’d be great if we could all get along with everybody, but sadly, we can’t.small business consulting

You can pick your friends, but you can’t always pick your colleagues, and for that reason, personality clashes in the workplace are inevitable.  It’s not uncommon to have one or two people who just don’t seem to get on with the others.

We’ve been brought in to mediate our fair share of employee conflicts in the past couple of months, and while the meetings are slightly uncomfortable for everyone in attendance, they are essential to finding a resolution – you have to be prepared to have the tough conversations.

You can not ignore it.

Here are our pointers to managing conflict between two employees (or even between yourself and an employee):

  1. Keep your emotions in check. Fighting fire with fire is not the way to go.  Stay professional, polite and calm.
  2. Document everything. Do not rely on your memory, ever.  Keeping notes of specific incidents may lead to seeing a pattern of behaviour, or being able to identify a catalyst to the behaviour, which could help in working through the difficulty.
  3. Clarify your expectations and set the standard yourself. Make sure it is crystal clear exactly what sort of behaviour you want to see, and what behaviour will not be tolerated.

Through the interventions we’ve been involved in, the most challenging dynamic is when an employee appears to be passive aggressive, where they are covert in their unacceptable behaviour so it goes under the radar but is still enough to ruffle feathers.  In these situations, the three tips above are even more crucial.

You don’t want one bad apple ruining the bunch, so front foot the issue and nip it in the bud before it becomes a total monstrosity to manage.


Category: communication

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