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3 Things to Avoid When Dealing with a Difficult Employee

3 Things to Avoid When Dealing with a Difficult Employee

Do you have an employee who is making your work life less than happy, yet they are very good at what they do so you don’t want to fire them? Is he or she pushing your buttons and making you think thoughts that you can’t believe are in your head, but your clients love them so much that you wouldn’t dare let them go? If so, you have a very unique problem on your hands, one that can often be frustrating to deal with.

While most articles will tell you what you should do when dealing with difficult employees like this, sometimes it is best to know what you should not do. So, here are three things to avoid when you are confronted with the same type of situation:

#1 – Don’t Talk Bad About Them with Other Employees

Although it may be extremely tempting to share your frustrations with others in the office, as an employer you are held to a higher standard. This means that you can’t go running around spouting off about how you’re fed up with one person always being late or that you’re sick and tired of how another person keeps a sloppy work station.

You have to learn how to keep your comments to yourself or you could wind up saying something that will bite you down the road. Remember that not everyone keeps confidences, so you may just open your mouth to the wrong person who tells the employee exactly what you said, creating a lot of workplace drama – and possibly even a lawsuit alleging slander.

Additionally, sharing your unfavorable opinion creates a negative work environment. It can bring the rest of your staff down and make them not look forward to coming to work, completely affecting your bottom line.

Therefore, if you absolutely need to get your thoughts off your chest, you’re better off sharing your concerns with someone who is not in your employ. Maybe you have a friend who also owns a business and would understand. If you have to, make an appointment with a counselor or therapist. That way you can talk to someone who is bound by confidentiality so that it has no way of getting back to the person.

#2 – Don’t Call Them Out In Front of Other Employees

I once worked for a person (who shall remain nameless to protect them) who would belittle and berate certain difficult employees in a staff meeting. They would raise their voice and point out all of the things they did wrong that week. Talk about lowering office morale. And not only did it affect the person being spoken to directly, but everyone else was scared that their turn was next.

If you have an issue with someone’s work product or workplace attitude, you’re better off taking it up with them directly. That way you will address the problem in a way that earns you respect, letting your other employees know that you’ll handle them with the same respect if you have an issue with them.

#3 – Don’t Give Them Control Over You

In the end, it is up to you whether you let someone else’s style and personality consume your life. You have the ability to choose to accept the person that they are to get some peace in your life and you have the ability to let a few of their “quirks” go just to save your sanity.

If your employee is truly good at what they do and doing a wonderful job for your business, then you may decide to let their little annoyances go by the wayside. After all, getting all anxious and stressed over them only hurts you.

Difficult employees can be found in every business and it’s up to you how you deal with them. Now you know how not to.



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by Christina DeBusk // Freelance writer, author, and small business consultant committed to helping entrepreneurs achieve higher levels of success.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.