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Dealing with Difficult Employees

In an article titled "5 Steps to Deal with Difficult Employees" by Dr. David G. Javtich for Entrepeneur Magazine he describes not only the "difficult employee" but ways to deal with them.

His 5 steps are:

1. Don't ignore the problem. 2. Intervene as soon as possible. 3. Research the problem personally. 4. Help the problematic employee to get back on track. 5. If all else fails, termination may be necessary.

Do you agree or disagree and what steps would you take and why?


Chris Shumate
Title: Accounting Manager
Company: Dominion Development Group, LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Accounting Manager, Dominion Development Group, LLC) |

I agree with #1, it's best to not ignore a problem under the guise that it'll go away. Problems seem to escalate when an employee is deemed "difficult". Choosing to not ignore the problem is only truly effective when it's done as soon as possible, so I agree with #2. The sooner intervention is done, the less collateral damage will be done. Toxic employees can spread more toxic waste quicker than we realize.

As for #3, there may not be enough time for someone to research personally, although I think it may be best. However, it may not be feasible to do so. Rather, the person who doing the handling could have other trusted folks check in on the problematic employee and the situation. I'm not fully convinced it has to be done personally.

Depending on the offense I don't think #4 is necessary. So I don't readily agree with it. It would behoove the employer to find out if the problem employee wants to get back on track. The employee may not want to adhere to a plan of getting back on track.

I certainly agree with #5. No need to have a recurring problem in your organization.

I'm not sure how it is in organizations represented here, but I've heard that the majority of companies hire too fast and fire too slow. If the employee is problematic and doesn't seem willing to change, get rid of them fast.

Ernie Humphrey CTP
Title: CEO & COO
Company: Treasury Webinars
LinkedIn Profile
(CEO & COO, Treasury Webinars) |

I like this take "The Art of Being a Disruptive Employee".:

Sara Voight
Title: Controller
Company: Critical Signal Technologies, Inc
(Controller, Critical Signal Technologies, Inc) |

I think #1 & #2 drive the process for correction. When you deal with something immediately it can be resolved quickly. Whether the behavior is the result of a legitimate issue the company needs to address or is a personality issue that needs to be worked on, ignoring anything grows a legitimate explosion for down the road.

(imho) Three possible outcomes:
1) The person sees that the company cares and said company is willing to discuss a situation. Even if the answer/response is not what the employee wants to hear, they are likely to improve their attitude and performance. Both parties respect one another and develop better communication paths for the future.
2) The person sees the company cares and the person makes changes short term to improve their attitude and performance, however, they identify a new issue or display short term memory issues on the prior conversations and return to the prior difficult behavior. This is likely a repeat situation that needs a PIP or other formal documentation and eventually a decision for them to move on.
3) The person sees the company cares but makes it clear they won't change unless the company responds to their issues 100% the way the person wants it to be. Said person needs to find another opportunity.

The reality is that you act now or deal with a significantly larger issue, one that could damage a company's reputation or its workforce, down the road.


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