How to Manage Awkward Staff – Top Tips

Don’t ignore it – nobody likes confrontation and it can be tempting to hope that difficult employees will naturally realize the error of their ways or that other people will keep them in line.  However, tackling minor inadequacies or attitude problems early can prevent escalation and protect the well being of the rest of your staff.

Have some proof – it all starts with the evidence – are any complaints about your staff well-founded? Keep a record of any emails or customer complaints.  Keep a paper trail of any advisory or warning conversations.  Be aware of the expectations of their role and gather any evidence that they are not fulfilling their basic job requirements.  The employee may simply be unaware of the issue, so go gently – seeing it in front of them may be enough to turn things around.

Provide a way forward – whatever the reaction, the important thing is to show that you will take steps to help them to improve and put things right.  Aim to let them lead this process with their own suggestions; this can help them to own the improvements.

Use the policies and the experts – any form of warning or disciplinary action must stay within the boundaries set by your organization.  If you are not an expert in HR, use the people that are!

Manage yourself – managing awkward staff can be stressful for any manager.  Ensure that you have someone you can talk to, to support you.  If you do not comfortable having disciplinary conversations, you can ask for someone else to be there or seek the guidance of other managers.  Leave the issue in the office – write down your thoughts before you leave for the day so that you don’t ruminate later.

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