Last week, we concentrated on how you can manage top talent. But as you know it, the world will not give you a team of all top talent every time. In fact, you will always have diversity in your teams. Don’t worry—celebrate the diversity. It is good to have diversity. Top talent will only be between 10 and 20 percent of your team most of the times. Sometimes you will not even have top talent until you specifically recruit the top talent through special ways like headhunting—and top talent does not come cheaply! The bulk of employees are just good, not top talent and not bad. You typically get another small proportion of those employees that will give you problems.
Today, we are going to look at the extreme opposite end–managing difficult employees. We have called them difficult because this is a group of employees with different problems that they bring to the boss. Some are lazy, others do not have the capability, and yet others have attitude issues and so on. As a boss, you need to deal with these issues. It is never easy and in this article, we will attempt to share some of the tools that you can use to deal with difficult employees.
Coach them: Whatever the challenge you have from a member of your team, try to coach the employee. Be clear to the employee on your expectations. It is also important to make known to your team how you approach work and how you expect your team to support you. Sometimes, problems arise simply because the team is failing to ‘read’ or ‘understand’ the boss, his or her expectations, style of management or execution. Take the difficult team member on some coaching path but make it as informal as possible. Be tactical about it. Teach the employee good ways of working.
Frame them: I am sure that you have once worked with someone who is very capable, knows his or her stuff and able to achieve a lot but has nothing to show for. Some of such employees may even be the brightest of the members you have. They may only lack the structure for their work, discipline and organisation. If this is the root issue for your difficult employee, work on a plan to frame and structure the team member. You may need to clearly define the activities and actions expected and by when. Given such employees structured ways of doing their work and how and when they report to you. Give such employees little space for roaming around or working on unnecessary tasks.
Micro-manage them: For the lazy and disorganised staff, you have no choice but to micro-manage them until they prove that they can work independently. Sometimes it helps to tell an employee that you are now resorting to micro-management until the employee is worthy of the independence. No one likes to be micro-managed. And so, when you say do this, you will find the employee working very hard to earn the independence. Make the micro-managing regime a pain and bother for the subject so that he or she should be positively motivated to graduate into the standard approach to relationship with the boss.
Re-calibrate their positioning: Some of the employees give problems simply because they are too comfortable or they do not respect the boss for various reasons, including where the employee thinks he or she can do the boss’s job or where an employee literally undermines the boss for whatever reason. In those circumstances, you need to work at getting the employee in his or her right place. It is very difficult to get things done when the employee is in a ‘protest’ mode or not aligning with or supporting you. You need to get this out of the way. In the end, this might include reducing the work or powers of your employee.
Be there next week when we continue looking at other tools and techniques that you can use to manage difficult employees. n