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Managing the Unmanageable

Every workplace has them. They never come to work on time; they invade your personal space; they constantly talk about themselves; they are on their cell phone all day; they complain about having too much work; they make inappropriate jokes…the list goes on! One of the toughest challenges in dealing with difficult employees is remaining professional. It has been estimated that difficult employees make up only 10% of a department or team, but they occupy 90% of a manager’s time.

Here are some common difficult personalities that you might face at work…recognize any?

So how can you handle a difficult employee?

  • Don’t Ignore!

In a presentation at the American Management Association in Crystal City, Va., Stewart Liff, a human resources management expert, cited findings from a survey that polled 14,000 federal employees. One question revealed that 87% of those surveyed felt it was “not likely” that management would deal with a problem employee. What is more shocking is that the responses provided by the supervisors were even worse: 91% replied they were “not likely” to deal with an employee who was performing poorly. Ignoring the issue will not solve the problem and if the problem persists, office morale will start to deteriorate. It is best to handle the issue as soon as it happens.

  • Communicate!

Companies with the most effective employee communication have 48% higher shareholder returns over the last five years (Towers Watson, Communication ROI Study, 2011). If you have a difficult employee in your office, speak up. Talk with your manager or supervisor. Explain to them the situation you are having with the employee. If nothing is being done to stop the issue, speak with HR. Once communication breaks down, employee engagement decreases and production drops, which can reduce your bottom line.

  • Coach!

A study conducted by McGovern, Lindemann, Vergara, Murphy, Barker and Warrenfeltz with Manchester, Inc., showed that coaching had the following benefits: 67% increase in teamwork, 63% increase in relationships with peers, and 61% increase in job satisfaction. Coaching employees can drastically reduce difficult behavior. As a manager, being able to recognize individual behaviors and traits of each team member beforehand will help you be better prepared to coach. Part of coaching is to know how each person communicates, learns, solves problems, and works with others. Coaching can help improve these difficult personalities, the office relationships, and employee engagement.

What types of personalities do you have in your workplace? How do you handle difficult employees?

Article contributed by Profiles International, artwork & design by Deann Graham and Jason Ingram of Profiles International.

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