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How to Deal with IMPOSSIBLE Employees

December 29, 2017

There are many different types of people that you will work with throughout your career.

Some of the people that you encounter will be friendly, helpful, and willing to trust and follow your leadership abilities. On the other hand, there are some employees that are going to give you trouble. It could be in the way that they work, their attitude, or even their behavior. In order to prepare for a management role, you need to understand how to deal with these seemingly “impossible” employees.

Due to the almost unlimited number of personality types, there are thousands of ways to interact with people that can help you make the most of these encounters. Understanding a little bit of psychology can help make this process even smoother. However, you don’t have to be a psychology expert in order to see real results in your interactions.

The first thing you need to do is learn how to spot these trouble employees before a confrontation occurs. Once you have them in your sights, you can start going through different processes to try and achieve the desired results and get them to peacefully work alongside you and everyone else in the business.

Spotting an Impossible Employee

We have all had that encounter with an employee that made even the simplest of requests awkward. When this happens, it can be troublesome, particularly if there are other employees are around to see the situation unfold. In order to avoid these confrontations, you need to start by being able to identify employees who are going to give you trouble early on.

The first sign that an employee is going to give you trouble is if they seem to be generally unhappy all the time. You don’t have to partake in a conversation to see it; you just need to pay attention to their facial features and mannerisms. People who don’t want to be there are extraordinarily obvious. Remember, everyone has an off day. The key is to notice a trend – simply put, if they are unhappy day after day, there is a chance that they are going to be an impossible employee.

Second, you are going to want to listen to them talk to others and note how they interact with you during casual encounters. If you hear an employee ask someone how their day is going and they roll their eyes and give a scathing response, they are probably going to be troublemakers.

The last way you can tell if an employee is going to be easy to talk to or impossible is in their behavior. Everyone has had that employee that comes back late from break every single day. These are the same ones who look bitter every day that they are there. You can also search for subtle signs of aggression and irritation in their body language.

De-escalating Impossible Employees

Despite these employees seeming like they are impossible, don’t worry: they CAN be properly trained and dealt with accordingly!

The most important thing to keep in mind is you need to be professional and respectful. If they stare at you bitterly, smile at them and continue the conversation. In some cases, that’s all it takes. Some people find it impossible to resist someone who is smiling and happy during a conversation and that, in turn, makes them smile and ease up.

Acting as a respectable leader is essential in making sure that trouble employees loosen up and start seeing you as a leader instead of an oppressive manager. You should remember the critical rules of communication:

  • Make sure you make eye contact
  • Use their name at least once when speaking with them
  • Smile often
  • Keep a strong posture

These small changes can turn a troubled employee’s attitude in the opposite direction.

You should also ensure that you give these employees time if they need you. Many of these types of employees have had bad past experiences at other jobs, or even with other managers in the same business. If you can win them to your side by being attentive when they need something you are giving them a reason to respect you and want to work hard for you. It could be something as simple as making sure that they get a requested day off if they ask you to specifically look into it. Small gestures go a long way towards de-escalating employees.

If it gets to the point where your employee starts to cross the line and you need to have a sit down with them, you should get it done as soon as the incident occurs. This “coaching” will help let them know what they are doing right, what they are doing wrong, and most importantly, give them clear instructions on what you expect from them. You have to be both firm but flexible.

The Butterfly Effect

The Butterfly Effect is a theory that states that small actions can cause huge responses as a “ripple effect.” Typically The Butterfly Effect refers to something on a grand scale – usually globally. However, you can view this effect as a much smaller scale within the business where you work. If you are willing to stop a troubled employee in their tracks and start correcting the issue people will notice.

For example, if your other employees are being made uncomfortable by an impossible employee, being able to loosen them up may make them easier for your team to work with. This process will allow your team to work together fluently and achieve more overall.

The same can be said for other managers. If you can get the troubled employee to stop being impossible, you will make the lives of other managers exponentially easier. This will allow them to have smoother shifts and, by default, make everyone happier. Plus, let’s not forget the benefit of allowing your company to get more work done quickly, you can reduce turnover rate, and keep employee morale boosted.

It can be a daunting task to imagine interacting with some of these employees face to face. You have to remain strong and remember that the purpose of this is for the better of the company and the overall success of everyone involved from employee to CEO.

You were hired as a manager due to your skills. The longer you work with people, the more natural tough conversations will become. Before long, you will be able to turn any impossible employee to an invaluable asset for the company!

Do YOU have any extra tips for dealing with “impossible” employees? Share this post on Facebook and let us know — we’d love to hear your suggestions!

Frank Spear is a freelance writer who has been making his mark on the internet for six years. He has seven years of management experience spanning across restaurants, telemarketing companies, and even a company that refurbished aircraft. When he isn't writing you can find Frank reading or checking out the latest video games.