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Top Tips to Handle Difficult Employees and Prevent Them from Poisoning Your Workplace

Irrespective of the place, time and type of work, every organization will come across a situation where they have to tackle some difficult employees. Your success as a manager will be governed by the steps you will take to effectively and smoothly handle employees, who create problems and take out the best from them. Choosing a defensive approach or making a difficult decision such as employee termination is not the correct mode to adopt. This will eventually reflect that you lack leadership skills and you are not proficient in handling your team effectively.

Characteristics of difficult employees

  • They are attention grabbers and they want all your attention to get focused on them rather than work.
  • They are uncooperative, unfriendly and argumentative.
  • They have somewhere a notion in their mind that you create problems for them to make them feel let down in front of other people.
  • They are disruptive and poison the whole working environment.

Approaches towards the smooth handling of problem creating employees

Follow these steps if you as a manager face any such situation to handle difficult employees in the best possible manner.

  • Never lose your temper, always be calm and controlled while dealing with difficult employees.
  • Understand employee intentions and work out the motivating forces that govern their odd behaviors. Try to solve the issue in the best possible manner without compromising on team discipline.
  • Gather experiences from your colleagues or seniors to better understand the situation.
  • Show these difficult employees your intention of how well you want to ease things with them instead of showing resistance towards their attitude.
  • Make equal rules for every employee and involve transparency in these guidelines to let the difficult employees know that targeting them is not your mindset.
  • No matter how they act professionally with you, always give them the respect they deserve. This will in turn make them respect you for your efforts.
  • Even after following the above steps if the situation does not ease out, carefully observe their working potential and let the higher management know about the prevailing difficulty. However, choose this as your last resort because this might have a negative impact on your own capabilities.

Documentation required while dealing with offensive employees

If all the above efforts fail and you along with your senior officials plan his/her official review or even termination, make sure to clearly outline the problem in a document explaining the review of the situation. This document must have a compulsory signature of the offending employee and your own signature as a manager. A witness is asked to read out the document to the employee and sign the document in situations when the offending employee refuses to do so.

Three essential documents required in such situations are:

  1. First offense documentation stating the problem the team faces because of the employee’s actions and behavior.
  2. Second offense documentation stating that even after the first warning, his/her attitude towards people and work is not improving and this can result in their termination.
  3. Final or third offense documentation stating their termination due to their habits that obstructs disciplined working environment.

The task may be difficult, but it's not impossible to handle. Just try to have a clear focused approach, get involved in open communication and show your concern and intention towards them.

Though managing difficult employees may sound awkward, every manager has to go through this situation at some point in their professional life. They are not just a headache for you, but also a demotivating force for other employees working with him. Focus and resolve to a smooth working environment.


Simon writes about various business strategies that can help companies in managing their operations smoothly. Many of his readers have found his posts to be very useful in their business. He also writes about Part L building regulations for agricultural and commercial constructions.