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The Champion Forum Podcast

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Thank you for listening to the Champion Forum Podcast Dealing with difficult people is one of the hardest parts of doing business, and it is even harder when that person is an employee. In this week’s episode of The Champion Forum Podcast, Jeff discusses how to deal with difficult employees. You’ll learn the questions you need to ask yourself, how to avoid making personal attacks, and how to guard your business against negative behavior.

Q: How would you describe a difficult employee? How can you tell the difference between a difficult employee and someone who simply made a mistake? Why do you think that leaders struggle to address their behavior? What consequences do you think that addressing an employee will have?

How to Deal with A Problematic Employee

  1. Ask yourself these questions: Did you communicate properly? Did you think through the instructions? Is this behavior a recurring issue?

  2. Critique behavior, not people. If you decide it is a recurring problem and that your leadership did not cause the issue, you need to address the issue. The key is to make sure that the discussion is not personal or emotional. Focus on the behavior that caused the problem without resorting to personal attacks.

  3. Listen to feedback. Have a 2-way conversation with the employee. Make sure that you fully understand what the problem is and any contributing factors. Sometimes employees will improve after they feel like their concerns are heard.

  4. Give clear direction. Explain why the behavior is inappropriate and how it needs to change. Focus on specific examples.

  5. Document problematic behavior. Write down any poor behavior that you see, including the date. This practice will help protect your company from wrongful termination suits and helps you be more clear with the employee.

  6. Work together toward a solution. The two of you should develop a solution you both agree on. Ask your employee what they need from you to improve.

  7. Establish clear expectations. Detail your expectations for what needs to improve, and set a timeline for improvement.

  8. Set specific consequences. Decide what will happen if your expectations are not met in the agreed-upon timeframe. Having consequences set up will encourage your employee to improve.

  9. Recognize a hopeless situation. Your goal is always to help the employee succeed, but if your efforts are not having the desired effect and the employee is unwilling to change their behavior, you may need to move on from them.

Q: Describe a time when you had to make a correction in your own behavior. How were you corrected? What was the most important part of that process? Now describe a time when you have addressed someone else’s behavior. Did you use any of these steps? Which step do you think is most important and why?

Application Activities:

  1. How can you help your employees and set them up for success? Consider your communication strategy and how you act in the office. Before you can correct other people, you need to make sure that you are doing your part to lead by example and not setting your employees up to fail.

  2. Have you been putting off dealing with a difficult employee? Take action and implement this process with an employee this week.

  3. You can avoid some problems with employees by having clear expectations from the beginning. Take a look at your company’s expectations. Are they thorough? Do your employees know what they are? Are there any expectations your team needs in addition to the expectations of the company? I have a guide for setting expectations available to everyone who joins my email list, and you can also learn more about building a company culture by listening to an interview I did in Episode 19 HERE.


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