4 Types of Challenging Employees and How to Deal With Them

If you’re a business owner and plan to grow, hiring employees is likely part of your plan. The best-case scenario is that you’ll be better able to focus on the “genius work” of the company. But sometimes plans go awry. The employee who showed so much potential during the interview or onboarding process is now exhibiting problematic behaviors. What to do? Here are a few suggestions. 

1. The Pot-Stirrer

This type of employee is also known as the troublemaker — usually the most obvious type, but sometimes covert. The main thing they accomplish in the workplace is stirring up conflict and drama. Casual chit-chat turns into saying things about other employees behind their back (whether in person, on Slack, or via email) that they wouldn’t dream of saying to their face. Their communication leaves others feeling suspicious, unsafe, and depleted. Consider engaging this type more closely. You’ll either nip the behavior in the bud, or be able to document things they do that will build a case for probation or letting them go in the future. 

2. The Procrastinator

Granted, time management is a continuous challenge. But employees who earn the title of “procrastinator” do things in a way that leaves others anxious and frustrated, because they perpetually complete tasks either in the nick of time or late. Projects get jeopardized — not to mention morale. With this type of employee, set firm deadlines and priorities. Even better, do this for your whole team. 

3. The Ghost

At odd times, the ghost vanishes. No explanation. It might be calling in sick when a big project comes due, or arriving late on the day of a key AM meeting. Other team members end up picking up the slack and there’s a general feeling of being let down. As with the procastrinator, it’s imperative to set clear rules and expectations, but in this case focusing on time expectations. Be prepared to enforce them. 

4. The Excuse Maker

The main issue that ties excuse makers together is the avoidance of personal responsibility. The excuses are simply the symptom, whether it’s car trouble, sick in-laws, or family crises. This can result in significantly lower team productivity. With this type of employee, document thoroughly. Notice the patterns that crop up so that you can decide on the most appropriate action. 

Dealing with challenging employees requires alertness and finesse. Try these suggestions when you run into this issue. 

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