In a perfect world, all employees would fit into one mould – a worker that listens, follows directions, shows initiative, and cares about their work.
Unfortunately, most leaders can attest that these perfect employees do not exist. Instead, there are all types of staff members, some easier to manage, and others not so much.
However, it is the employer’s job to lead all of the team members; in this article, we will provide advice on how to deal with two types of difficult employees.
The Know It All
The key to effective leadership is that individuals must want to be led.
However, this is often not the case, especially with employees that are know it alls.
These are the type of individuals that believe that they are the smartest, most experienced and skilled team members, and, as such, they don’t need to be managed at all.
These can often be older employees that believe that they have worked longer and know more than their younger boss.
Or, this can be an individual that went to the top university, and believes himself to be “star” of the company based on these qualifications.
Even though education and experience are beneficial, a leader must be certain that he is in charge of his department, and that his employees defer to him for all top level decisions.
To reel in a know it all, it is imperative for the employer to have a one-on-one meeting with the employee as soon as this behaviour becomes evident, and state very seriously that while initiative is appreciated, for the professional relationship to work, the employee needs to follow the boss’ instructions and show respect.
Know it alls need to be put in their place, and made aware that there is only one leader in the firm, in order to keep a chain of command in place.
It can take only one pessimist to affect the entire corporate culture. A negative individual who is not happy with anything, and complains about everything, will affect the mood of other employees.
These are the people that complain that they don’t get paid enough, they are overworked, they are not appreciated, and that their boss is not invested in their success.
It can be very difficult for managers to deal with these employees, especially knowing that they voice these opinions out loud, negatively affecting the rest of the staff.
To try and deal with these pessimists, it may be beneficial to overload them with praise and kindness.
Oftentimes, pessimists are just looking for attention, and providing them with positive feedback boosts their mood.
Another tactic is to ask for their input in improving the company culture.
By involving them in small changes around the office, for example a longer break on Fridays or treating staff to a catered lunch every month, you can make them feel important, and, in turn, they can be more optimistic.
Leaders need to employ different tactics for dealing with various kinds of difficult employees.
There is no one-style-fits-all model, but trying various ways of handling the situation, and keeping it from affecting the rest of the staff, is imperative for managers to do as soon as possible.
If know it alls or pessimists are ignored, they can truly affect the corporate culture, and cause other employees to act in a similar way, which will disrupt workflow.
Head of Training and Development
Originally published: 11 April, 2016
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