Difficult employees can be very competent, technically. Or, they might have great people-savvy but limited technical abilities. Due to this global market we operate within, they may have entirely different definitions of integrity, ethics, and other core values. They provide challenges to you as the boss. Either they do not have a well-balanced approach to issue resolution, or worse, they refuse to develop these abilities. Although they may lack the interest to acquire these skills, they end up blaming you when problems arise! As the leader, you must be proactive. It may save your job.
Use scientifically validated assessments. Using an assessment tool will facilitate a better understanding of each person’s thinking style, core behaviors and occupational interests. It will provide a bigger picture of their personality traits in comparison to the rest of the working population, which provides them with a better understanding of why they may have trouble working with different types of people. To receive the biggest ROI, have all your employees together when debriefing the results.
Require appropriate training. Investing in areas where these employees require a stronger skill set may make all the difference. Enable highly technical people to develop the appropriate people skills. Develop project management skills for employees who have great people skills but show little interest or ability to manage processes and details. Remember to include training for setting goals and achieving results on-time and within budget. Ethics training for all employees is a great tool to get everyone on the same page.
Exploit strengths. If your employees are good either with the details or the bigger picture, have them review a current project with you and together determine why it is stalled or not working well. Listen for the gold; ask questions. See if these individuals can uncover the issue(s) themselves. Even if they have been the biggest nay-sayer, this process will bolster their own buy-in to the project.
Keep attitude positive. Too often we place blame on difficult employees and hold them responsible for our own negative attitude towards them. Unfortunately, you foster dissension that may spread to other employees when you do. Instead of creating this hostile working environment, teach your employees how to value others’ contributions, regardless of how they share their ideas Be a better boss by conveying how to do this through your example. Your ROI will be evident as you watch your employees develop stronger interpersonal skills and build a cohesive team.
©Jeannette Seibly, 2011