Dealing with Difficult Employees - Part 1: Behavioural Types

Whilst dealing with difficult employees promptly and effectively is crucial to prohibit the potential damage they can cause to their colleagues and to the organisation, actually identifying difficult behaviour is not always as straightforward as it seems. Clearly, persistent lateness, low productivity and insubordination are examples of unacceptable behaviour that are easily identified and can be dealt with through normal disciplinary channels. However other problem behaviour can be much more complicated to define.

You may know that a particular employee is difficult, but putting your finger exactly on the reason why, or describing the specific behaviour can be extremely hard to do. Consequently, dealing with the employee effectively becomes too challenging, and is often the reason why nothing is done and the situation is left to fester until the problem grows out of control.

Different industries and working environments will have their own share of these indiscernibly difficult employees. Although they will come in many different guises, with some very unique characteristics, what makes them difficult or problem employees will probably fall under one or more of just a few broader categories: -

  • Time bandits – These people impact on their manager’s time because they seek constant re-assurance, always needing to be driven to produce results, need showing or telling how to do a specific task every time it is required, or they just don’t seem capable of getting on with a job on their own

  • Shirkers – Afraid to take responsibility, shirkers may not be confident of their own judgement and can dramatically affect productivity as they wait for somebody else to make a decision for them. More specifically, worriers, buck passers and hand holders fall into this category

  • Annoyers – Always whingeing and whining, looks for the negatives, has got a bad attitude or is impossible to hold a civil conversation with. Annoyers tend to drag down the team morale as their actions are felt mostly by their colleagues and people they work closely with. They can also have a negative effect on customers when in a customer facing role

  • Dodgers - Some dodgers will have set routines to avoid work, such as making the tea at certain times. Others will not initiate any work for themselves but only do the tasks given directly to them, or will take their time over simple tasks, leaving challenging jobs for others to do.

Certain industries will nurture their own specific categories of problem employees that should be identified. Whilst categorising behaviours in this way helps to determine the appropriate action to take, blatantly labelling employees should of course be avoided.

Equally important is identifying triggers that may be the reason behind the employee’s behaviour which we will look at in part two of this blog.

In the meantime, contact us for help and assistance with any of the issues raised here or for information about our training courses to help you deal with difficult employees. Call us on 01452 331331 or e-mail info@hrchampions.co.uk


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23 March 2018, 12:18
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