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iManage, Issue #011 -- 3 Steps to Managing a Challenging Employee
June 05, 2010

3 Steps to Managing a Challenging Employee

I met a friend recently who manages a small business. He was under a lot of stress due to the behaviour of one of his employees.

She constantly undermined his authority, criticized at every opportunity and generally had a negative impact on company morale.

So, what should you do when faced with a challenging employee? Here are 3 steps to think about.

Step 1: Change your Footwear

Step into the shoes of the employee. Imagine how they are viewing their world of work. Get curious about what it is that is making them feel negative. If you can see things from their perspective, you just might be able to change their view of the situation - or perhaps your own.

Step 2: Trust your Gut

If your gut is telling you that an employee's behaviour is unacceptable, then don't be afraid to deal with it. Faced with a challenging employee, it is very common to feel uncertain, afraid and stressed out as a result.

BUT remember if there are 10 people on your team, the remaining 9 will be supporting you, even if silently. No-one wants to work for a manager who sweeps problems under the carpet and hopes they will go away.

Step 3: What was it I said?

Note it! When you decide to deal with the situation, note every incident, phone call, meeting and agreed actions. Not only will this help you maintain your resolve, it may also be used as evidence in case of a legal action at a later stage. Remember to note facts and timelines, not opinions.

A very competent manager once told me he followed the 3 Fs rule - Fair, Firm and Friendly. Keep these in your mind as you interact with your employee. Do your utmost to help them develop a more positive mindset, which is the best outcome for everyone concerned.

Do you need a new perspective on a management problem that you face? Get help or share advice here.

Want to learn how to handle employee appraisals and discover new ways to motivate staff? Download the Motivation and Performance Appraisal Audio Guide to find out more.

Ann Halloran

Practical management skills advice for business owners and managers. Get best practice tips on a wide range of topics such as time management, leadership, communication skills, managing change and more.

Content based on 30 years management/consultancy experience gained in a wide range of business sectors.

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