As a manager, would you like your team to always demonstrate a collaborative behavior? I imagine so. Is that the case? Perhaps not all the time, as the reality of organizations brings its share of daily challenges, which sometimes causes some employees to behave in ways not only harmful to the team, but also to the work environment. Have you ever had a difficult employee on your team? How did it impact you and your team? It might have impacted morale, confidence, work climate and possibly your desire to come to work. The impact of a difficult employee can be major on you and your team, both in terms of well-being and performance. It is therefore important to ACT, dissociating the behavior of the person, listening to the employee’s point of view and engaging them in the next steps. Have you ever brushed off a difficult conversation with an employee? You might have thought the situation will solve itself as this person in question did not manifest such behaviour previously or because the stressful project will soon be coming to an end. This is not the solution.
So ACT, but how? Here are 3 tips for managing a difficult employee.
Separate the behavior from the person. Even if everything points to the person being intentionally harmful, odds are that the behaviour is in response to something else. Before acting, anchor yourself in a healthy mindset. You must be convinced that you and the difficult employee want to work together in order to find a solution. Assume that the person wants to find a solution as much as you do.
For example, your employee constantly complains about other teams and their slow pace during collaborations. Try dissociating this behavior from the individual, consider the complaints at hand as the challenge to focus on. If you focus on reducing or even eliminating the complaints, but not on resolving the impatience of your employee, it will be easier for you to approach and will seem less aggressive to the employee.
Meet the person following the 3-step feedback model. Firstly, get ready and take notes about what happened: the facts and the information. Share the facts with the person, withholding judgment or interpretation on their behavior. Then, ask for their opinion about said behavior. You must truly be open to really understanding their point of view. It’s more than simply respecting the process. Subsequently, share your experience, and the impact that this behavior has had on you and the team. Lastly, discuss next steps. The purpose of the discussion is to identify next steps in order to prevent the behavior from reoccurring.
For example, rather than saying, “I noticed that you often complain about other teams’’, go ahead and say, “I noticed that in our last 2 group meetings, you pointed out the time taken by other teams in relation to the contracts. Can you share your point of view? “.
Engage the person in determining the next steps. Imposing actions may not have the desired effect. Use the o2 coaching model, to help the person identify solutions and draw up their action plan. Be sure to set a next meeting to discuss progress.
For example, once you have finished sharing your experience and the impact of the behavior, follow through with an open-ended question, such as, “What would allow you to be successful in your collaboration with other teams? What are the possible options to reach that goal? “
Managing a difficult employee is one of the biggest challenges faced by all managers. We do not always know how to do it. We fear that our authority will be questioned should no change take place despite our action. We simply might not like confrontation, and we prefer to focus our energy on what we can control. However, as a manager, it’s part of our role. Fortunately, there are several tools to help us prepare and act should the situation occur. The sooner you act, the sooner the morale, confidence and work climate will return. Just like your desire to come to work! Contact us to share your experience or challenges!