TIPS FOR EMPLOYERS AND SUPERVISORS FOR DEALING WITH DIFFICULT PEOPLE
Published April 16, 2014
Tips for Employers and Supervisors for Dealing with Difficult People
This Blog is for the Employers and Supervisors out there. You have a responsibility to your workforce to protect them from Difficult People. See my previous blog (” How to Deal With Difficult People”). Co-workers are limited in how they can deal with Difficult People. Co-workers have to ignore Difficult People and try not to let them frustrate them. You however have the power to do something about these Difficult People. One of the worst things you can do for your working environment is to IGNORE Difficult People. By doing so you are losing good employees that get put out with these Difficult People and leave. Your company’s morale is hurt by Difficult People. By ignoring Difficult People you send a message to your workforce that 1) you don’t care and 2) why should they be good employees if you don’t care. The result is a toxic work force.
One mistake that Bosses and Supervisors make is that they don’t realize bad attitude is poor work performance. Just because the employee gets their work done, does not mean that they have good work performance if their attitude is bad. Attitude is Big. Attitude should be written up. Supervisors and bosses often ignore this or think they can’t write up attitude. Yes you can! To ignore bad attitude is to condone it.
Little things are Big things in the workforce. Pay attention to what your employees are doing attitude wise. Are they Difficult People? What employee is a bully? Are you saying anything to the bully? What employee is a slacker? Are you doing anything about it? What employee comes in just a little bit late each day? Are you saying anything? What employee has a negative Debbie Downer attitude? Are you counseling that employee? Why not?
In 34 years of employment law, I consistently see Difficult People, bad attitude employees, in the midst of litigation. One scenario is where the Difficult Employee finally causes the supervisor to blow up and do something, i.e. fire. As a result of not dealing with the problem, the Difficult Employee had no warning and a lawsuit results.
Another scenario is where the supervisor doesn’t counsel the Difficult Employee but the co-workers shun the Difficult Employee. The Difficult Employee wasn’t counseled about their behavior so naturally they think it was because of the race, sex, national origin, ect..
When Difficult Employees are finally fired, there are not any write ups because the supervisors didn’t think you could write up bad attitude. The result is a difficult time trying to explain why it was the bad attitude and not the race, sex, national origin that was the reason for the firing.
Difficult people don’t get better by ignoring them. They get worse. Problems don’t go away by ignoring them. Any supervisor or boss will tell you the worst part of their job is dealing with Difficult People. The boss reasons he will wait to after the holidays to say anything. By then, something else will have come up to prevent him from counseling the Difficult Employee. Supervisors procrastinate and wait till Friday afternoon to say anything to the Difficult Employee rationalizing that they won’t have to see the employee until the next Monday. Putting things off just makes them harder. Act immediately when you see bad attitude. Because bad attitude is often times hard to describe exactly, the closer in time that you comment, the better.
When hesitating about acting, DO NOT let yourself off the hook by thinking, “Oh Well, they just can’t help it.” Maybe so, but they can take their bad attitude somewhere else. People don’t change but they understand that if they put their hand in a fire, they will get burned. If you take the responsibility of telling them that their bad attitude will get them burned, i.e. disciplined, they will get it. If they keep putting their hand in the fire, being difficult, they need to move on.
You owe it to your staff to do this! Remember, by ignoring bad behavior you condone it. Now get to work on your bad attitude employees.