Unless you are a solo-preneur, work from home, or live in a cave, you have probably had the “pleasure” of dealing with a difficult co-worker or team member.  As a Supervisor, Manager or Boss, you know these people are toxic to the work environment, and can cost your company time and money, sometimes lots of money.

You know the people I’m talking about: bad attitude, never on time, constant complainers and whiners, lazy, don’t pull their weight and think the world revolves around them.  The type when they walk into a room, you want to walk out. They create even more problems because their negativity can be contagious, is bad for morale, and no one wants to work with them.

As a Supervisor, Manager or Boss, one of the skills you will need is to reign in these difficult employees before you start losing your best people to other businesses, where the work environment is much more satisfying.  One of the highest priorities of workers is to work for a business where they look forward to going to work.

So what can you do? (Other than personal violence, which we never recommend. But you can at least think about it.)

  • Open lines of communication immediately and keep them open.  Letting things sit and fester will not make the problem go away, and usually makes it worse.  Try to get to know the person personally.  There could be underlying reasons they are acting like this, such as personal problems at home, or are bored and not feeling challenged at work.  Frustration at work can manifest itself in many different ways.
  • Let the person know about the problem in a compassionate way, as they may not see it as others do.  Give feedback. Mentor them.
  • Make the person accountable for their actions, and let them help determine a course of action, and a specific timeline for improvement.  Sometimes it’s time off to take care of personal problems, sometimes it’s added responsibilities so they are challenged in the workplace.  Let them know the consequences of continuing with their behavior.
  • Empower all your team members to lead and work with their individual strengths.  This will let all team members know the team is bigger than any one individual.
  • Make sure as a Manager you do not talk ill about the person behind their back.  If you do, this will let the other team members know you cannot be trusted, and are part of the gossip mill.
  • If you have a Human Resources department, let them know about the situation, or get them involved. They may be able to offer guidance.  This should be a last step approach after all other avenues have been exhausted.

Each situation is different, and needs to be handled on an individual basis.  By starting with a more human approach, remembering that at the end of the day, we all want to do well and feel appreciated, and following the above tips, you will make a bad situation better for everyone involved.  When everyone gets along, great things are accomplished, and at the end of the day, isn’t that the goal?

Paul Rutter is a customer loyalty, repeat business and customer service expert, a keynote speaker, corporate trainer and business author. He has had the unique opportunity to live with his customers and co-workers for months at a time traveling the world, and shares his experiences with land based businesses. For more information on More Than Perfect® Service, contact Paul at Paul@PaulRutterSpeaks.com, follow him on Twitter on @RealPaulRutter or visit him on Facebook/PaulRutterSpeaks.

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