7 Tips for Coaching Difficult Employees


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Whether you’re a manager, supervisor, or trainer, one of the inevitable aspects of your job is the need to deal firmly and fairly with problem employees. Just as there are any number of reasons why an employee can become a problem—bad attitude, inability to do what’s required, unresponsiveness to feedback on performance, and so on—there are various ways to handle the issues and the employees who create them.

Following are seven tips to keep in mind.

  1. Deal with the issue right away. If you delay your response or ignore the issue altogether, you may look weak and ineffective. You’ll also send a message to other employees that they too can get away with inappropriate behavior.
  2. Stay calm and poised. Because you’re the one in the position of authority, you’ll set the tone of the discussion. Always maintain a professional demeanor and convey a tone that says, “This isn’t working. How can we fix it?”
  3. Allow the employee to vent. Just as you would an upset customer, give the employee a few moments to air his or her grievances. Sometimes this venting is exactly what a person needs to do before calming down and discussing the issue more rationally.
  4. Empathize. Let an upset or disgruntled employee know that you’re aware he or she has strong feelings about the issue and that you’re interested in helping the employee to resolve them. Empathizing is not the same thing as agreeing. It just lets people feel heard and acknowledged.
  5. Focus on the issue, not the person. No matter how strongly you believe that the employee’s behavior or attitude is at the root of the problem, don’t make the issue a personal one. You want to communicate that you are for the employee but against the behavior.
  6. Always give the employee an out. It will only further upset employees if they feel that they’re being backed up against a wall. When working to resolve an issue, be sure to give the employee an opportunity to choose the correct outcome of the discussion.
  7. Focus on a solution. When emotions are running high, it’s all too easy to get stuck in a continuous cycle of discussing the problem. Once the issue has been clearly identified, move the discussion forward by focusing on ways to resolve it.

Print this list and keep it handy for the next time you need to coach a problem employee.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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