How Would You Manage a Difficult Member of Staff?

How would you manage a difficult member of staff? It can be one of the most challenging tasks for any manager or leader. Whether it’s due to personality clashes, lack of motivation or simply an unwillingness to follow instructions, managing difficult staff members is something that every team will have to face at some point.

The good news is that there are strategies and resources available which can help managers understand how best to handle these situations in order to create positive outcomes. In this blog post, we’ll explore key areas in how would you manage a difficult member of staff so that you can better equip yourself as a manager if you ever have to face such a situation.

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How Would You Manage a Difficult Member of Staff?

Difficult staff members can be a challenge to manage, but with the right strategies and support, it is possible to create an effective working relationship. Identifying difficult behaviors is the first step in understanding how best to manage them.

Common signs of difficulty include resistance to change or direction, excessive complaining or criticism, refusal to take responsibility for mistakes, and frequent absences without explanation.

It’s important to note that these behaviors may have underlying causes such as mental health issues or personal problems outside of work. Analyzing the causes of difficult behavior can help managers better understand why their employees are acting out and develop appropriate solutions.

For example, if an employee has been dealing with a family crisis at home, they may need extra time off from work or more flexible hours so they can handle their responsibilities.

Assessing the impact of difficult behavior is also essential in order to determine what action needs to be taken by management. If left unchecked, challenging staff members could negatively affect team morale and productivity levels as well as disrupt workplace dynamics. Taking steps early on can help prevent further disruption later on.

It is important to understand the underlying causes of difficult behavior in order to effectively manage staff members. With a clear understanding, managers can then develop strategies for managing these employees and create an environment that fosters positive outcomes. how would you manage a difficult member of staff


Developing Strategies to Manage Difficult Staff Members

Managing difficult staff members can be a challenge for any manager or leader. It is important to develop strategies that will help you effectively manage these employees and maintain a productive workplace.

Establish Boundaries

One of the most effective ways to manage difficult staff members is by establishing clear expectations and boundaries. This means setting specific goals, deadlines, and rules for the employee to follow.

Make sure they understand what is expected of them in terms of performance, behavior, and attitude. This will help ensure that everyone in the organization understands their role and responsibilities within the team.

Create an Open Dialogue

An open dialogue between managers/leaders and their employees helps create trust between both parties which can lead to better communication. Encourage your employees to share their thoughts openly in order to foster an environment where constructive feedback can be exchanged freely among all parties.

Practice Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement techniques are also key when managing difficult staff members, as they encourage desirable behaviors while discouraging negative ones. Examples include providing verbal praise when tasks are completed on time or offering rewards such as extra vacation days for exemplary work ethic.

By using positive reinforcement techniques, managers/leaders can motivate their employees while reinforcing good habits at work — eventually leading to increased productivity.

Dealing with Unacceptable Behavior

Dealing with unacceptable behavior from difficult staff members can be a challenging task for any manager or leader. Establishing consequences for unacceptable behavior is an important step in managing these types of employees. Consequences should be clear and consistent and should reflect the severity of the offense.

For example, if an employee is consistently late to work, they may receive a verbal warning followed by written warnings that could eventually lead to suspension or termination.

Documenting incidents and outcomes is also essential when dealing with difficult staff members. This helps ensure that all parties involved are aware of what has happened and why certain decisions were made. It also serves as evidence if further action needs to be taken against the employee in question.

Finally, taking appropriate action when necessary is key when it comes to dealing with unacceptable behavior from difficult staff members. Depending on the situation, this could mean suspending or terminating an employee’s employment contract if their actions are deemed serious enough to warrant such measures.

Ultimately, it is up to managers and leaders to decide how best to handle each individual case while keeping company policies in mind at all times.

How to Handle a Disruptive Employee

Managing a disruptive employee can be difficult, but it’s important to address the issue head-on. How would you manage a difficult member of staff who is being disruptive?

Start by speaking directly to the person about their behavior and explain why it is unacceptable. Explain what changes need to be made and what consequences will follow if they don’t alter their behavior.

If you are unable to fix the problem or terminate the employment contract, consider separating them from other team members in order to minimize disruption. This will help contain any toxic behaviors that could spread throughout your organization.

It’s also important for managers to provide clear expectations of how employees should behave in the workplace and reinforce these expectations regularly with all staff members. Setting boundaries around acceptable behavior helps ensure everyone understands what is expected of them while at work, which can reduce instances of disruptive behavior before they start.

Additionally, providing feedback on performance in a timely manner allows employees an opportunity to course correct quickly instead of allowing issues to fester until they become unmanageable. Creating an environment where employees feel safe enough express themselves without fear of repercussions is key when managing a disruptive employee.

Staff should be comfortable discussing problems openly without feeling judged or attacked for voicing concerns or ideas that may not align with those held by management. Finally, offering support services such as counseling sessions, mediation services, and peer mentoring programs can help create an atmosphere where individuals feel supported both professionally and personally.

How to Deal With an Insubordinate Employee

How would you manage a difficult member of staff who is being disrespectful?

  1. Remain Calm: It is important to remain calm and professional when dealing with an insubordinate employee. Yelling or becoming angry will only make the situation worse and can lead to further disrespect from the employee.
  2. Address The Issue Immediately: Don’t wait until the problem escalates before addressing it, as this could lead to more serious issues down the line. Letting insubordination go unchecked sends a message that it is acceptable behavior in your workplace, which can encourage other employees to follow suit.
  3. Have A Conversation With The Employee: Talk with the employee privately about their behavior and let them know why it is unacceptable. Explain what you expect of them and provide examples if necessary so there are no misunderstandings on either side.
  4. Document Everything: Keep detailed records of all conversations with the employee regarding their insubordination, including dates, times, and topics discussed. This will protect you legally should any legal action be taken against you by the employee at a later date due to wrongful termination or discrimination claims.
  5. Set Consequences For Future Incidents: Once you have addressed the issue directly with your employee, set clear consequences for any future incidents of insubordination such as warnings or suspension without pay depending on the severity of each incident.

Building Relationships with Difficult Staff Members

Building relationships with difficult staff members can be challenging, but it is an important part of being a successful manager or leader. Showing respect and empathy for the employee’s situation is key to establishing trust and building a positive relationship.

Respectful communication should be used when addressing any issues that arise, as this will help create an environment where both parties feel heard and understood.

Additionally, encouraging open communication and collaboration between the employee and management team can help foster a sense of belonging within the organization.

Providing support and guidance when needed is also essential in developing strong relationships with difficult staff members. Managers should take time to listen to their employees’ concerns without judgment or criticism, offering advice or resources if appropriate.

It may also be beneficial to provide additional training opportunities so that employees have the skills they need to succeed in their roles.

Finally, managers should strive to recognize successes whenever possible. Even small accomplishments can make a big difference in morale.

When to Seek Professional Help for Difficult Staff Members

When managing difficult staff members, it is important to seek professional help. Consulting human resources professionals can provide valuable insight into the best way to handle a situation. They are knowledgeable about workplace policies and procedures and can offer guidance on how to manage challenging employees in a respectful manner.

Working with mental health professionals can also be beneficial as they have expertise in understanding and addressing behavioral issues that may be contributing to an employee’s difficulty.

Reaching out to colleagues for advice is another option. Having someone who has experienced similar situations before can provide helpful perspectives on how best to approach the issue at hand.

Consult Human Resources Professionals

Human resources (HR) professionals are well-versed in workplace policies and procedures, so consulting them when dealing with difficult staff members is essential. HR representatives will know what steps need to be taken if an employee’s behavior becomes unacceptable or violates company policy, such as issuing warnings or initiating disciplinary action if necessary.

Additionally, HR personnel may suggest ways of resolving conflicts between employees without resorting to punitive measures which could further exacerbate the problem.

Work with Mental Health Professionals

Having someone who has experienced similar situations before can provide helpful perspectives on how best to approach the issue. It may be beneficial to discuss the situation with a trusted colleague or mentor, as they will likely have valuable insight and experience that could prove useful in resolving the problem. Talking through potential solutions with an objective third party can also help you gain clarity and perspective on how best to move forward.

FAQs About How Would You Manage a Difficult Member of Staff

How do you manage uncooperative staff?

  • Listen.
  • Give clear, behavioral feedback.
  • Document.
  • Be consistent.
  • Set consequences if things don’t change.
  • Work through the company’s processes.
  • Don’t poison the well.
  • Manage your self-talk.

How do you handle staff with attitude problems?

  • Try to make the employee feel more comfortable.
  • Focus on results and productivity, do not make it personal.
  • Focus on the positive.
  • Be specific and avoid being vague.


How would you manage a difficult member of staff? By understanding their behavior, developing effective strategies for dealing with unacceptable behavior, and seeking professional help when needed, you can become a better manager and leader who is equipped to handle any situation. Ultimately, difficult employees should not be seen as an obstacle but rather as an opportunity to grow in your managerial skills.