How to Manage Difficult Employees

If you are looking for ‘How to manage difficult employees’, you are likely to be tormented by some toxic or difficult employees at the workplace. This type of management is often described with adjectives like “stressful,” “tedious,” and “frustrating.”

You’re not alone if this happens to you; all of your colleagues have likely been dealing with similar management issues lately. The solution? Forego the strict employee conduct and disciplinary actions by building an employee-management system based on trust.

The key to building a robust, positive employee-management system is trust. To build trust, you need two things: clear rules and a way to enforce them. Unfortunately, there’s no magic formula that will guarantee that all of your employees will follow your rules. 

But with these four best tips on how to manage difficult employees, we think you’ll find that it’s easier to handle those few employees who don’t get it — or are simply trying to sabotage your efforts for whatever reason.

4 Ways to Manage Your Difficult Employees

We are sure you must have done enough to coach your employees the right way. But difficult employees don’t make it effortless for you. Here are four employee-management strategies that will help you know how to manage difficult employees. These tips will alleviate that stress, frustration, and awkwardness. You don’t have to implement them all — pick and choose which ones you think will work best for your company culture.

1. Focus On The Right Goals First

Of course, the most important thing when discussing how to manage difficult employees is setting clear, well-defined goals.

If a fragile employee can’t understand your company’s goals, it is important to steer them in the right direction. And if he doesn’t know what’s at stake for him (like his paycheck), he’s probably less likely to want to work toward achieving these goals in the first place.

2. Create a Formal and Informal Atmosphere

To build the trust necessary for an effective employee-management system, the job itself must meet specific standards — not just the person doing it.

You’ll want to establish clear, documented standards to protect yourself and your company. Write up a list of rules and policies that make the job easier for you and your employees, such as:

  • Equipment specifications
  • Benefit stipulations — vacation time, health insurance, etc.
  • Duties and responsibilities
  • General work rules — for example, what happens if you get an emergency call?
  • Hierarchy of authority (which managers have the right to give commands, etc.)

Trust us. There’s no way to run a company without creating rules effectively. You don’t want to be personally held responsible for everyone’s performance (especially if they’re lazy or complex). So don’t avoid the hard work of writing down a precise job specification. It’s worth it in the end.

3. Manage Your Employees Like a Business, Not a Social Club

In addition to the job itself, you need to set clear rules for how your employees interact with one another — and why. You want to make sure that there are no conflicts between any of your employees. If a dispute does arise, everyone must know the rules so they won’t be surprised by it at any time.

Another tip to know how to manage difficult employees is to put everyone on the same schedule — especially during the first month or two of employment. This will make it easier to track precisely when everyone is working and when they’re not.

4. Be Ready to Promote When the Time is Right

You’d heard it before, but we’ll repeat it: Timing is everything when it comes to employees. If you wait too long to promote a key employee, they will probably never ascend to your level of leadership. “But I don’t want to promote him or her just yet,” you might say. “He or she might take something important away from me!” Yes, this is an understandable fear — but remember that if your employee is truly a great one, you won’t lose much. Here’s an explanation of it:

Most of the employees want nothing more than to get ahead and move up in your company. They’ll take pride in the work they do, and they’ll pour their heart and soul into meeting company goals.

Sharing and crediting success is one of the crucial skills of a good leader. Every employee wants to be recognized for their hard work. They will take on extra responsibility, seek to achieve important goals, and even without even thinking about it. Even if they’re doing their job well, if you don’t give them some promotion or raise, they’ll eventually find a different job where they get recognized for their hard work.

The best employees are self-motivators; the difficult ones require motivation. This is how to manage difficult employees.


The best or difficult employees, both care about the company more than they do about themselves. They need a different management strategy, though. 

These 4 tips can help you know how to manage difficult employees. It can make them take on extra responsibility, seek to achieve important goals, and even work overtime without being asked — all without even thinking about it. And they’ll pour their heart and soul into meeting company goals.

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