The only thing worse than struggling to hire the right employee is hiring the wrong one. As a manager or an employer, you know the lengths to which you are willing to go to help an employee be the team member you need them to be. But even then, some hires are just difficult to work with. Whether they are struggling to deliver on expectations or simply don’t follow instructions, a difficult employee can drag the whole team down. But the best managers can get what they and their team need out of even difficult employees. Here are three tips that can help you help them.
The first piece of advice for managers is to listen to the employee who is struggling. This can be difficult because when our expectations go unmet, or we are irritated, listening is the last thing on our minds. But the best managers get very attentive when someone’s not doing well. They know their best shot at improving the situation lies in understanding of the situation – including knowing the employee’s point of view. Sometimes the simple act of listening can be the solution or reveal the solution that is needed. So, whatever you are feeling on a personal level, take a step back and listen to the other side of the story before making any decisions on next steps.
Give clear feedback
Even the best employees can’t improve or grow without clear feedback. Often when an employee is difficult to manage, they don’t understand where they are falling short. Without clear, actionable feedback, they don’t know which way to go to improve. Some managers will spend months, even years, complaining about poor employees. But unless they are willing to do the work themselves and provide the tough feedback that is needed in a respectful and sympathetic manner, they really have only themselves to blame for the failings of their employee.
Document issues at the time of occurrence
Too often employers struggle to let a difficult employee go simply because they had no record of the bad behavior. This lack of documentation can arise out of misplaced hopefulness, an unwillingness to be too negative or even lack of time. But problems like these don’t just go away on their own. Documenting the issues when they happen is a critical part to solving the problem, or making sure you have the information you need. Remember, if you’re able to solve the problem, you can just breathe a sigh of relief and put your documentation in the back of the drawer. But if you need to move forward with consequences, you will have the documentation to support your decision to let the difficult employee go without a fight.
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