How to Manage Insubordinate Staff Without Losing Your Cool

If you manage a team of employees, chances are you’ve had to deal with insubordinate behavior at some point. Whether it’s an employee who constantly challenges your authority or someone who simply doesn’t follow instructions, insubordination can be frustrating and difficult to deal with. But don’t despair – there are ways how to manage insubordinate staff effectively and get them back on track.

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What is Workplace Insubordination?

Workplace insubordination can take many forms. It can be an employee who consistently refuses to follow your instructions or is challenging your authority. It can also be more subtle, such as an employee who is always questioning your judgment.

Whatever the form, employee insubordination is a serious problem that can undermine your authority as a manager and lead to a breakdown in communication and morale. If you have an employee who is behaving in an insubordinate manner, it’s important to know how to manage insubordinate staff and take action immediately.

Here are some tips.

1. Define What Constitutes Insubordination in Your Workplace

Make sure that your employees are clear on what is and is not acceptable behavior. This will help to prevent misunderstandings and insubordinate behavior in the future.

2. Have a Conversation With the Employee

If you feel that an employee is acting in an insubordinate manner, have a private conversation with them to discuss the issue. It’s important to be calm and professional when addressing the issue.

3. Give the Employee a Warning

If the insubordinate behavior continues after you’ve had a conversation with the employee, you may need to give them a formal warning. This should be done in writing and should outline the consequences of continued insubordinate behavior.

4. Take Disciplinary Action

If the insubordinate behavior persists, you may need to take disciplinary action such as suspension or termination. This should be done in accordance with your company’s policies and procedures.

Key Takeaway: Insubordination in the workplace can take many forms, but it’s important to take action immediately to maintain your authority.

Establish Clear Consequences for Insubordinate Behavior

It’s not uncommon for employees to exhibit insubordinate behavior at some point or another. Whether it’s due to a personality clash, a misunderstanding, or something else entirely, it’s important to nip it in the bud before it becomes a bigger issue.

One of the best ways to do this is to establish clear consequences for insubordinate behavior. This way, employees will know that there are repercussions for their actions and they’ll be less likely to do it again.

Some possible consequences could include:

  • A verbal warning
  • A written warning
  • Suspension from work
  • Termination of employment

It’s up to you as the manager to decide what consequences are appropriate for each situation, but whatever you do, make sure that the consequences are consistently enforced. This will send a message to your employees that you’re serious about maintaining a respectful and professional workplace.

Train Managers on How to Effectively Deal with Insubordination

It’s never fun to deal with insubordinate staff members, but it’s something that every manager has to deal with at some point.

The key to effectively managing these situations is to be prepared and to know how to handle them in a way that minimizes conflict and gets the staff member back on track.

The first step is to ensure that your managers are trained on how to deal with insubordinate staff. This will help them to be better prepared when the situation arises, and will also give them the tools they need to effectively manage the situation.

Some tips on how to manage insubordinate staff.

  • Be clear about what is expected of them and what the consequences are for not meeting those expectations.
  • Be consistent in your expectations and in the way you enforce them.
  • Avoid personal attacks and instead focus on the behavior that is causing the problem.
  • Avoid using threats or ultimatums as this will only escalate the situation.
  • Try to find a solution that is mutually agreeable and that will address the underlying issues.
  • Document the insubordinate behavior and the steps you took to address it.

This will be helpful if the situation needs to be escalated.

Key Takeaway: The key to managing insubordinate staff is to be prepared and to focus on the behavior, not the person.

Encourage Open and Respectful Communication

You want to encourage an open and respectful communication environment within your company culture, but you also need to be able to manage insubordinate staff effectively.

Here are some tips to help you do both.

1. Define What Respectful Communication Looks Like in Your Company

This will be different for every organization, but it’s important to have a clear definition of what respectful communication looks like in your company. This will help you set the tone for how you expect employees to communicate with each other.

2. Encourage Employees to Speak Up

If you want employees to feel comfortable communicating openly and respectfully, you need to encourage them to speak up. This means creating an environment where employees feel like their voices will be heard and respected.

how to manage insubordinate staff


3. Model the Behavior You Want to See

As a leader, you need to model the behavior you want to see from your employees. If you want them to communicate respectfully, you need to communicate respectfully with them.

This sets the tone for how employees will interact with each other.

4. Address Disrespectful Communication Immediately

If you see or hear disrespectful communication, don’t ignore it. Address it immediately.

This sends the message that disrespectful communication will not be tolerated in your company.

5. Encourage Employees to Give Feedback

Giving employees the opportunity to give feedback is a great way to encourage respectful communication. It shows that you value their opinions and that you’re open to hearing what they have to say.

Key Takeaway: Lead by example to encourage respectful communication in the workplace.

Investigate the Root Cause of Insubordination and Address It Accordingly

There may be a valid reason why the staff member is acting out. If you can get to the bottom of the issue, you can more easily address it.

Be consistent with your expectations and consequences. If you are inconsistent, it will be more difficult to manage the staff member and the situation.

Communicate with other staff members. This will help everyone be on the same page and make it more difficult for the staff member to act out.

If you say there will be consequences for employee insubordination, you need to follow through. This will show the staff member that you are serious about the expectations and will help to prevent future instances of insubordination.

Key Takeaway: It’s important to manage insubordinate staff in a consistent and direct manner.

FAQs About How to Manage Insubordinate Staff

How do you manage employees that don’t respect you?

  • Maintain a positive attitude.
  • Avoid micromanaging.
  • Accept blame.
  • Draw the line.
  • Discipline insubordination.

How do you handle a defiant employee?

  • Punish behavior, not people.
  • Identify the root cause of the problem.
  • Be open to feedback.
  • Give clear directions.
  • Monitor progress.
  • Stay calm and show respect.

How do you fix workplace insubordination?

  • Set clear boundaries.
  • Listen to your employees.
  • Follow ethical standards and workplace policies.


How to manage insubordinate staff? There are a few different ways to deal with someone who doesn’t respect your authority.

You could talk to the person and try to figure out why they don’t respect you. Maybe there is something you can do to change the situation.

You could also try ignoring the person or giving them silent treatment. Sometimes people will start respecting you more if you don’t give them attention. If nothing else works, you may have to talk to your boss or HR about the situation.

If you’re looking to become a better manager or leader, has the resources you need. We offer advice and tips on everything from how to handle insubordinate staff to time management techniques. Check out our website today and see what we can do for you!

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