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How to deal with difficult employees

In every manager’s career there will be at least one employee who could be categorised as “difficult.” That could be someone who isn’t a team player, who is struggling in productivity terms or who just doesn’t quite do what is expected of them. Handling difficult employees is a skill that every manager has to learn to avoid situations that escalate into something much more significant than they need to be. There are some simple ways to deal with someone who is not doing well.

Ask them what’s happening

If you’re dealing with a difficult employee the temptation may be to simply write them off as useless. You might always assume that they will perform ineffectively or interact badly – and often, as a result, they continue to do so. That’s why it’s so important to sit down and ask employees who are being difficult what’s going on. There could be any number of reasons why someone is behaving as they are but the only way to help them move on from it is to find out what’s behind it.

Provide feedback and keep records

It’s important to take a structured approach to difficult employees. That means keeping records of issues – and of progress – so that you have something to refer back to, whether that’s during discussions with the employee or if a situation arises where you have to take action against them. Regular feedback is crucial too, as it is an opportunity to give an employee the chance to improve by highlighting issues and then providing proactive, positive steps to take towards change.

Set standards – and stick to them

Employees need to understand what’s required of them and that means taking a consistent approach to standards of performance and behaviour. If timeliness is crucial, for example, then don’t make exceptions for some people and not others. What you do, as opposed to what you say, will be incredibly important here. It’s also key to show difficult employees that there are consequences to certain actions. Always provide a warning of consequences – i.e. if behaviour doesn’t improve by a specific date then the consequences will kick in – and if you’ve mentioned consequences, make sure you follow through on them.

Manage yourself during the process

If an employee has upset you, made your morning difficult or caused a problem that is affecting your day-to-day experience it can be tempting to start complaining about them to anyone who will listen. However, it’s far better to avoid talking them down to others and work on boosting your own self confidence and esteem instead. Stick to the processes your company has for handling difficult employees and don’t allow yourself to get overly emotional or upset.

Take the hard decisions if you have to

It’s not easy to fire someone but if it’s obvious that this is the only real solution to the current situation then it’s better to step up and tackle it, rather than let things fester.

Every manager can learn how to handle challenging employees – our Managing Difficult Staffing Situations course is a great place to start.

In-House Training with PTP

PTP stands for Practical Training for Professionals and our aim is to make our training as practical as possible so delegates can return to the workplace with skills they can implement immediately. PTP now delivers training to over 40% of the FTSE 100.

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1-to-1 training can be based on any of the 100 plus courses that PTP provides, it includes an initial telephone conference of up to 1 hour, a 1/2 day (3.5 hours) on-site one to one training session at your premises with one of PTP's expert trainers and then a further telephone conference call of up to an hour within 2 weeks of the on-site visit.

You have the option of a line manager being involved in both telephone conferences, the second telephone conference which can be for feedback and action planning is generally scheduled during the on-site visit.

Who does 1-to-1 training suit?

Individuals taking on a new challenge or responsibilities. Professionals who want a trusted "sounding board" and thinking partner. Executives or managers who want to enhance their leadership effectiveness to achieve organizational and career success. Executives and professionals wanting to compete successfully but still retain balance in their life. Individuals who want to understand their blind spots so that they don't stand in their own way on their path to success. Executives and Professionals who want to improve their interpersonal skills so as to be more effective with bosses, peers, subordinates, or people in general. How much does 1-to-1 training cost?

A 1-to-1 training session costs from as little as £400 + VAT and will include an initial telephone conference of up to 1 hour, a 1/2 day (3.5 hours) on-site training at your premises and then a further telephone conference call of up to an hour within 2 weeks of the on-site visit.

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How much does U-Choose Training cost?

U-choose costs the same as our normal open courses i.e. the normal delegate rate. This includes lunch and refreshments throughout the day, framed certification and comprehensive training notes. A U-Choose booking can only be confirmed once we receive payment which can be made via credit/debit card, BACS or cheque. Payment is due at least 4 weeks before the date you request. Please note to be eligible for U-Choose you must book a minimum of 2 delegates on the same course & date.