difficult employee

Managing challenging employees may be frustrating. You’ll certainly have to deal with a difficult employee at some point, which is a problem that several managers dread. The behavior of employees can destroy your energy, affect the collegiality of your team, and ruin productivity. 

Leaders need to deal with challenging personnel quickly and effectively for this reason. Let’s examine the characteristics of demanding employees as well as tried-and-true tactics for coping with them.

When workers work well together as a team and uphold the most fundamental rules of respect and decency for one another, employee morale, productivity, and client service are at their highest levels. However, when workers engage in improper and destructive actions, this is not always the case. 

Basic professional and collegial standards should be upheld at all times. Failure to do so can have significant adverse effects on the business and its employees, as well as increasing legal liability risks.

Problematic Employee Behaviors

Employees engage in various actions that might put other people and the company in danger. Examples and general categories include:

1. Gossiping

Gossiping can have both positive and negative impacts but is generally characterized as the act of sharing private, revealing, or even fabricated information about someone. Common examples include jealousy-fueled tales, the spreading of false stories, the exaggeration of private conversations, or the circulation of rumors meant to be hurtful or alarming. 

Coworker gossip can be harmful and can create an unsafe and poisonous work environment. It’s critical to be aware of workplace gossip and to take action to stop it before it has a chance to do any long-term damage.

2. Showing overall Rudeness or Insolence

It is inappropriate to act in an intimidating manner towards others. This includes using derogatory words, acting aggressively or confrontationally, making fun of them in front of other people, and displaying threatening body language such as yelling, throwing things, or slamming doors. 

These behaviors are frequently employed to intimidate others who challenge or offend the offender. We need to be very clear that these actions will not be accepted.

3. Bullying

Bullies frequently utilize less obvious methods to hurt other employees, such as social isolation, condescending or dismissive communications, and manipulation, even if bullying may undoubtedly entail uncouth activities. 

Bullying is frequently directed at particular people and is defined by ongoing abusive and frightening conduct or unjust acts (such as giving the victim too much work, frequently altering deadlines, or giving them low-performance evaluations), which make the victim feel frightened, mistreated, defenseless, or exposed. 

Bullying is all about controlling someone else, usually a direct report nevertheless bullies try and control anyone they perceive as being weak.

5. Showing Disobedience

An employee intentionally refusing to follow a legitimate and reasonable command from their employer is referred to as disobedience. This may seem like a single incident deserving of punishment or termination or as a string of less serious incidents that gradually reduce a manager’s authority. 

Those who ignore repeated instructions to stop making offensive comments in meetings or damaging rumors about other employees are examples of the latter.

What can Help?

Behavioral coaching helps to recognize the potential risks to businesses that can arise from disruptive and difficult employee behavior, and it provides helpful advice on how to effectively manage these types of behaviors in the workplace. 

The goal of this coaching is to improve everyone’s working environment by identifying some of the most prevalent problematic behavioral issues. Employers must take action to recognize any problematic behaviors and deal with them if they want to keep their workplaces constructive and conflict-free.

Psychological Safety

Psychological safety is the conviction that you won’t suffer consequences or face humiliation for voicing your opinions, queries, worries, or errors. 

It is the conviction among employees at work that they won’t be humiliated, rejected, or penalized for offering ideas, taking chances, or asking for feedback.

Psychological Safety at Work

As much as they appreciate physical safety and performance requirements, a great team also values psychological safety. 

There are several advantages to creating a psychologically safe workplace, including:

1. Brings About Employee Engagement 

Employees can contribute more effectively in team meetings and when interacting with coworkers and customers when they feel safe at work. Employees that feel safe are better able to devote themselves entirely to their work, stay on task until it is finished, and engage with their colleagues to address issues and accomplish projects. 

Any organization’s performance is strongly influenced by the level of engagement that comes along with that feeling of security.

2. Encourages Diverse Workplace Culture

More than ever, it’s critical to ensure that every team member feels involved. Diverse teams are welcomed in safe workplaces.

Regardless of gender, color, ethnicity, background, or political inclinations, they enable all to thrive. The outcome is an enjoyable discussion of ideas and experiences where everyone feels connected and a part of a common cause.

3. Promotes Innovation and Creativity

Employees must feel comfortable speaking their minds for creativity and ideas to flow naturally. Just think of all the brilliant ideas that were never shared by colleagues who lacked the confidence to do so.

4. Brings About Employee Wellbeing

Overall well-being is influenced by mental health. Employees can perform at their best and avoid the stresses that prevent them from doing their best work when they are mentally healthy.

5. Improves Group Performance

Teams succeed when they are made up of highly motivated people who don’t want to quit. Teams perform better when there is an inclusive workplace atmosphere, brand advocates, and creative ideas.

In addition to all of the aforementioned, having a healthy staff is a winning formula for enhancing team performance. It’s time to add the concept of a psychologically safe workplace to the list of fundamental human rights and hold companies responsible for putting it into practice.

4 Stages of Psychological Safety

1. Inclusion Safety 

Employees are at ease being a part of it. They feel welcome and valued; they are at ease being there and are made to feel ignored.

2. Learner Safety

Employees can gain knowledge by posing queries. Here, employees might be able to experiment, make minor errors (and acknowledge them), and request assistance.

3. Contributor Safety

Members can express their thoughts without fear of mockery or disgrace. It is a more difficult situation since sharing your thoughts might make team members more psychosocially vulnerable.

4. Challenger Safety

Employees have the right to challenge the opinions of others, even those in positions of power, and to propose material modifications to concepts, schemes, or processes.


A stubborn, defensive, and defiant employee is difficult to control. Try these strategies to get the most out of them. You might be able to modify their job duties to capitalize on their advantages. Try placing them in a job as a subject matter expert if they have extensive technical knowledge but lack management abilities, for instance. 

Some workers become oppositional when they feel insecure, especially if their part is changing. You might temporarily overlook their negative style while they acclimate to their new circumstances and also work on stylistic problems once they’ve settled in and feel more familiar with the new prospects.

It’s imperative to remember that a stubborn, obstinate, or difficult employee is, at their core, a person. Because of this, it’s critical to approach them in an effort to resolve issues constructively, while at the same time being respectful, equitable, and understanding.

You may resolve any concerns and assist your employee in becoming a more effective, resourceful member of your team by keeping the lines of communication open and employing constructive criticism.

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