Recently, a friend of mine asked about how I deal with managing difficult people. I know that probably feels like a big question to answer, but I actually think the secret to dealing with this very common challenge boils down to one simple principle: Respect. Here are 3 ways to illustrate how I show respect to employees and colleagues when dealing with difficult employees:
1. My philosophy is that everyone has a different work "superpower." Sometimes, an employee isn't the right fit for the role their in but may excel elsewhere within the company. By looking for a position that the employee will be better suited towards, you're respecting their strengths and putting them to best use - a win/win for everyone. However, don't "pass the trash," or in other words, don't just pass along a problem that someone else will have to deal with. Have the courage to terminate the employee vs recycling to another department if they aren't a good performer.
2. Have mutually respectful conversations that are candid and positive. Frame your discussion in a way that sounds something like this: "Hey, it's easier to say nothing than to be honest with you, so I'm going to share some tough feedback because I want you to know and I want to help. I'm not telling you this because it's fun. I'm telling you because I care."
3. You deserve to be respected too, so don't tolerate insubordination. This is not acceptable at any time. Deal with insubordination directly and firmly in the moment or as soon after the incident as possible. It's a good idea to ask for help from HR to prepare you for an effective termination discussion.
Have you had to deal with a difficult employee? How did you approach the problem? Share your experience in the comments below.