Tried and True Coaching Tips for Difficult Employees


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If you are in man­age­ment at a call cen­ter or for a cus­tomer support/service orga­ni­za­tion, you will undoubt­edly face the task of coach­ing and man­ag­ing dif­fi­cult employ­ees. Call cen­ters and cus­tomer sup­port jobs tend to be stress­ful posi­tions, as employ­ees are con­stantly deal­ing with upset cus­tomers and spend the major­ity of their day problem-solving. The stress of the job and frus­tra­tions of deal­ing with dif­fi­cult cus­tomers often spills onto employ­ees, lead­ing to short-tempers and decreased work performance.

As a man­ager, it’s your job to help dif­fuse ten­sion, coach and encour­age your employ­ees, and re-establish the peace in your work envi­ron­ment so that your staff can remain focused on pro­vid­ing excel­lent cus­tomer ser­vice. If you have employ­ees who are con­tin­u­ally caus­ing prob­lems, fol­low our tried and true coach­ing tips for dif­fi­cult employ­ees. With the right approach and patience, you’ll be able to keep your employ­ees happy, which ulti­mately trans­lates to more sat­is­fied cus­tomers.

Before you take the step of con­fronting the employee, do your research. What is the envi­ron­ment that the employee is work­ing in? If the employee is in a cus­tomer ser­vice role with espe­cially dif­fi­cult calls, is the prob­lem behav­ior a result of height­ened stress? How does the employee get along with other employ­ees? Does the employee feel sin­gled out or that he or she is not get­ting due recog­ni­tion for the job? What is the employee’s back­ground and pre­vi­ous work expe­ri­ence? And finally, you won’t be able to inves­ti­gate per­son­ally, but keep in mind that your employee could be deal­ing with per­sonal issues out­side of work that are affect­ing the employee’s atti­tude and job performance.

Arm your­self with as much back­ground infor­ma­tion that is pru­dent to obtain before you sit down with the employee to dis­cuss the behav­ior and problem.

A key coach­ing tip for dif­fi­cult employ­ees is to deal with the p

rob­lem and not the per­son. When you do sit down with the employee to dis­cuss the issue, keep your feed­back focused on the prob­lem behav­ior and not the employee as a per­son. Offer an assess­ment of the behav­ior with­out pass

ing judg­ment on whether it is good or bad; focus on the actions and con­se­quences with­out being eval­u­a­tive about the person’s character.

If other employ­ees are involved and offer their input or com­plaints about the employee whose behav­ior is in ques­tion, be care­ful not to take sides. If you solicit input from other employ­ees, ask for facts and behav­iors, instead of prob­ing for per­son­al­ity char­ac­ter­is­tics. It can be easy for employ­ees and teams to take sides when there is a prob­lem employee or team, and as a man­ager, it’s your job to not fos­ter an “us ver­sus them” envi­ron­ment. A great coach­ing tip for dif­fi­cult employ­ees to keep in mind is that you are not there to make friends or pick favorites – your job is to help each employee excel.

Any time you are deal­ing with a prob­lem employee, be dis­creet. Dis­cuss the issue with the employee behind closed doors, and do it in a way that is not insult­ing. First ask the employee if he or she is aware of any issues and give the per­son a chance to iden­tify and explain the behav­ior. If the employee is unaware of the prob­lem behav­ior, remem­ber to keep the dis­cus­sion focused on the issue and not the employee’s char­ac­ter. Work with the employee to develop a plan that will help rec­tify the poor con­duct and lead the employee back to more accept­able work per­for­mance. Make sure the employee clearly under­stands what he or she needs to do to cor­rect the prob­lem, and give the per­son a time­line for improvement.

After you’ve taken the time to sit down with the employee, dis­cussed the prob­lem, and deter­mined a course of cor­rec­tive action, your next step is to pro­vide addi­tional mon­i­tor­ing for the employee’s work per­for­mance and behav­ior. A coach­ing tip for dif­fi­cult employ­ees to keep in mind is pos­i­tive rein­force­ment – you’ve already called out the neg­a­tive behav­ior, so accen­tu­ate the pos­i­tive gains to help boost the employee’s con­fi­dence and guide him or her back to the type of job per­for­mance your com­pany expects.

When coach­ing dif­fi­cult employ­ees, keep in mind that your own atti­tude counts just as much as your employ­ees’ atti­tudes; if you approach prob­lems proac­tively and work to solve them pos­i­tively, you will be fos­ter­ing a work envi­ron­ment where employ­ees don’t feel threat­ened, and they’ll know that if they make mis­takes, they have a chance to improve their behav­ior, learn, and improve. At the end of the day, you’ll find your own job much more reward­ing as you learn to work with employ­ees, instead of against them.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joanna Jones
Joanna Jones is a professional copywriter and marketing strategist who has partnered with Impact Learning Systems for two years. As a marketing professional, Joanna works closely with customer service teams and helps companies improve their B2B and B2C communications and strategy.


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