One of the more difficult aspects of being a manager is handling employees who are having issues not performing and/or behaving to the professional standards you have set. However, you can turn things around if you deal with the situation intentionally. Check out these tips for working with (not around) employees who are being challenging:


Avoid Making Assumptions 

If you go into a discussion with an employee who already has a preconceived notion on why they are acting the way they are (i.e., they’re lazy or disrespectful), you may inadvertently make the conversation combative and put them on the defensive, rather than being open. Avoid making any assumptions and, instead, aim to bring up the topic in an objective manner simply. 


Focus on the Facts 

When you bring up an employee performance or behavior issue, keep it objective. Do not bring up anything that could be construed as your opinion, such as “It comes across to me like…” Focus on the facts and only state the behavior and why it needs to be addressed. Have specific examples prepared to share to ensure you are both on the same page regarding the situation. 


Actively Listen

Once you have stated the problem with your employee’s performance or behavior, be empathetic and fully engaged as they respond. Actively listen to what they have to say and empathize with their point of view. Communicate that you understand their perspective or ask questions. This will show you are trying to see their side and want to help.


Be Open to Feedback

In order to identify the cause of the problem and work together to determine a solution, you must be willing to do some self-reflection and own up to any part you may have unwillingly contributed to the situation. Be open to feedback from the employee on factors that are causing their challenges. For example, perhaps you didn’t realize their workload was too high, they didn’t have the tools to do their job effectively, or that another colleague wasn’t pulling their weight. This will give you valuable insight you can act upon to improve matters.


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