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Difficult employees are a work-place inevitability. You do your best to hire and maintain the best people, but it can be nearly impossible to spot a difficult employee during the short interview and screening process. Once on the job, a difficult employee can interfere with operations, fill the work day with frustration and have a negative impact on the entire work team. When you’re running your own business, it’s your job to deal with difficult employees. Here are a few tips to help you deal with the challenge of a difficult employee.

1.Remain professional and positive.

It’s easy to let your frustration with a difficult employee get the best of you. Losing your air of professionalism by losing your temper, failing to treat your difficult employee courteously or badmouthing your difficult employee will only make the situation worse. Maintain your professional attitude when dealing with a difficult employee, and try to remain positive about finding solutions that work for you and your employee.

2.Take the time to understand the situation.

Difficult employees can’t be ignored. That being said, don’t rush into action unless your difficult employee is causing an immediate problem. Take the time to observe your difficult employee in all situations. Is he or she always problematic, or are there aspects of the job that he or she shines at? Is there something else at work that is causing the employee to be more difficult? Are there triggers to problem behavior? Talk to other managers or members of the staff about the situation, if it’s appropriate. While it can be tempting to tune out a difficult employee, listen to their concerns and feedback, as it may be valid and help you resolve workplace problems.

3.Provide clear and productive feedback.

If you want an employee to change their ways at work, you have to help them understand which behaviors are problematic and how they can be corrected. Most managers hate providing their employees with corrective feedback, but there is a right way to do it. Introduce the topic to the employee, and invite him or her to give feedback on the situation. Add in your observations, and be specific about which behaviors are a problem. Be careful not to make blanket statements about the employee’s attitude; rather, focus on specific actions that can be changed. Let the employee know what actions or behaviors you would like to see, and create benchmarks to measure progress, when appropriate.

4.Document everything.

One of the biggest mistakes managers make with problem employees is that they fail to document the problem or any disciplinary discussions or actions regarding the problem. If you don’t document the problem and attempts to correct employee behavior, it can be impossible to dismiss a difficult employee if it becomes clear that the employee isn’t going to change his or her ways.

Dealing with difficult employees can be one of the most unpleasant aspects of operating your own business. But failing to deal with difficult employees can make going to work miserable, and it can affect the productivity and success of your business. By addressing difficult employees the right way, you can stave off problems, or at least know that you’ve tried everything you could before dismissing an employee.