How to respond to difficult employees

How to respond to difficult employees


Every now and then, you might come across an employee who is particularly difficult to handle. A difficult employee could be one who is incompetent, doesn’t follow instructions, behaves rudely in the office or some other behaviour alogether. However, as a business owner or manager, you must maintain professionalism when responding to such an employee.

The first thing you should do is try, once again, to listen to what your employee has to say. Once we have decided that an employee can be troublesome or difficult to handle, we might fail to make a genuine effort to listen to what they have to say. However, listening will allow you to understand how you might be able to improve the situation. You will be able to gain an understanding of the situation the employee may be in and figure out potential solutions.

Another key aspect is to document interactions with particularly difficult employees. This will be essential documentation if you decide that termination is the only way to go. Documenting incidents isn’t necessarily ‘negative’, it simply allows you to have proof of interactions that led to your professional decisions.

Set consequences if you find that the behaviour is still not changing. These consequences should be specific and set out clear expectations that the employee needs to meet. If the employee does not meet these expectations, then you need to act upon the consequences that you had stated.

Finally, don’t be afraid to fire a difficult employee. It is in no way an easy task, but if it does get to the point where termination is necessary, then don’t give yourself excuses not to do so.

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If you believe the matters discussed above are relevant to your business, please contact Darren Smith of our office to discuss further.


Darren is a Chartered Accountant with extensive experience, including working in the big 4 and medium sized firms before becoming a partner of a city based firm in 2000.

He has gained much experience and has extensive knowledge in providing business and taxation advice, superannuation planning, negotiation of sales and acquisitions of businesses and property development. His client base covers a wide range of industry groups.

Darren works with business owners to grow their businesses and create personal wealth within and outside of their business.


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