Managing Difficult Employees and Disruptive Behaviors

Managing Difficult Employees and Disruptive Behaviors

If you visit every workplace, you’ll find all types of difficult employees – those who are; slackers, chronically absent, late at work, nodding instead of verbally confirming they understand, rude, bully, under-performing, challenging to get along with, always find fault with others work, the list is endless. 

Many difficult employees start by doing great things, and then later change their behaviors.  Judging from experience, good employees don’t merely become “toxic” without reason. 

Toxic Employees

People are not toxic; it is their habits are — and toxic behaviors are just symptoms of more significant problems that exist within the workplace culture.  If you do not deal with bad behaviors properly, it can be very costly.  

One of the consequences of failing to deal with a disruptive employee in the workplace is, good employees can leave and then spend more money on replacements and related training.

Related article: Stop Your Talented Employee Overstepping Boundaries

Handling Employees with Bad Attitudes

Many managers do not want to deal with difficult employees or any other people related to teething problems.  When forced to take on people’s issues, particularly that of stubborn employees, managers always rush to treat the symptom rather than the root cause.  Because to them, that is the easiest way out.

They generally start disciplinary processes to get rid of difficult employees.  They want the problem to go away as quickly as possible. 

However, employee behaviors come from a root cause.  So, getting rid of the stubborn employees can treat the symptom, but not the root cause. 

It is far more likely that once the naughty employee is gone, another one will emerge and cause similar discontent if not worse.  

Besides, if you make a hasty decision without full consideration, it can create labor compliance issues and enormous legal costs for the company.

How Can a Manager Deal with Difficult Employees

As already mentioned, many managers do not try to understand the problems of employees.  They find employees matters inconveniencing, irritating, and energy-sapping.  So, they turn away instead of investigating people’s habits.  

Managing Difficult Employees and Disruptive Behaviors

It is essential, however, for a manager to render unbiased and constructive attention to every employee in the workplace.  It is also important to treat them as individuals – because some need more attention than others do.

You have to manage these individuals accordingly because they all fall within your management responsibility.  And you cannot delegate that responsibility.

Also read: How to Deal with Employees Who Don’t Follow Instructions

It is a bit of hard work to manage a disruptive employee, but you cannot avoid it.  You have to work on them to ensure that it does not happen again in the future.

Managing Emotional Employees

Any manager dealing with difficult employees needs to know that some of the disruptive individuals can be emotional when challenged.  Surprisingly, difficult employees are often not aware of their behaviors and the impact they cause in the workplace.  

So they tend to get emotional when told of their stubborn and disruptive behaviors — and usually, managers do not know how to deal with that.

Many managers get terrified about how to handle employees who are depressed or crying.

So when individuals get emotional during a conversation, do not pretend you care.  Just show the individual that it is not idiotic to be emotional, but do not be distracted from the issue.  

Read also: What is Considered as Insubordination in the Workplace?

Having a Conversation with Difficult Employees

It is essential to have impartial and meaningful conversations with the employees regularly – not just during reviews or crisis time. These conversations should be private and ensure that the discussion goes across the board – and note everything down.  

Give a lot of time to the individuals to talk while you are listening actively and observing directly.  Also, do not be subjective or judgemental. 

Try to find out whether there are behavioral dynamics you are responsible for.  Identify why people are behaving like that. Is it frustration, or is there anything personal that triggers their behaviors?  

Explore their perception, needs, and strength. That way, you can indeed find out what is going on, and identify the right buttons to push to get the problematic employee back in line.  

If you need help on how to have an impactful conversation with your difficult employee, simply read this great book called “Crucial Conversations” – Check it on Amazon.

Moving Forward

Do not forget that preventing individuals from becoming disruptive depends on how proactive you are as a manager. 

If you identify a change of behaviors from any member of the team, let them know about it immediately.  

It is good to make employees aware that the manager is focusing on the behaviors they are exhibiting in the workplace.

Talk and Agree

Make employees know what is acceptable and not acceptable. Also, let them know the consequences if they fail to improve their behaviors. Find out whether they need your support and express the readiness to help them if necessary. 

Very Related: How to Handle a Junior Colleague Who Undermines Your Authority

That support is for helping them change their habits, going forward to what is acceptable in the workplace.  If they are not willing to change, then consider more severe ways to sort out the situation.

If you pay attention and deal with stubborn individuals decisively, better employees will emerge.  

A good read: Learn How to Improve Employee Job Satisfaction and Morale

If you know how to deal with disruptive employees, I  welcome your thoughts in the comments box below

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