How to Make Difficult Employees, Team Players


While it’s no shock that not everyone is a team player, there are always some outright difficult staff members. These are the people that managers tend to label as lazy, arrogant, stubborn, or even insubordinate. But there are many times when these labels might do more damage than good.

It’s always best to carefully consider how you can work with employees towards betterment. Because the only other possibility is to accrue outrageous costs from constant employee turnover. In fact, it could cost you as much as 9 months of the employee’s annual income to replace them.


Types of Difficult Employees

Not that each needs much explanation as nearly any manager should immediately identify them by name. But there are a few key “difficult” employees that tend to negatively impact workplaces.

For example, there’s always someone who’s the “victim.” They use phrases such as, “No one ever told me.” Whereas the “Pitbull” will often open confront management in a group, but seemingly be quite nice in a one-on-one setting. There’s also the pessimist who thinks that even the easiest jobs are too big a task, or that nothing will ever change.

Of course, there are other types of exceptionally difficult employees, but these three really do stand out. They also come with some ongoing issues for management and their team. They create a negative atmosphere that spreads quickly.

Assess and Reassess

If you didn’t employ personality tests during the interview process, bring them in now. Or, take your staff through another round. Then, give everyone access to the results and corresponding information.

The thing with personality tests such as the “SELF” exam or the Meyers-Briggs is that it gives everyone some insight into their teammates. There are also no “bad” results. It’s possible that your “Pitbull” employee is an extrovert with strong feelings, and they act out in group settings because they believe they’re protecting their teammates. That’s a vantage point that many managers miss when dealing with stubborn or aggressive employees.

While you’re reassessing your employee’s personalities and how they make up a collective team, look at your rewards system. It’s possible that the victims or the pessimists feel that the rewards are too far out of reach. Or, an assertive employee may feel that only submissive behavior receives rewards.


Determine Your Stance on Gossip

While most gossip is negative there is the opportunity to create positive gossip. However, you need to take a strong and decisive stand on what you and your management team will do regarding gossip.

Now, you may choose to address peer praise as separate from gossip and encourage it. Or, you can turn a deaf ear to all gossip. The brave will choose to address all gossip with the person identified in the gossip directly. Asking, is this true? Then moving on.

The issue is that gossiping is the most effective way that individuals can destroy a team. They gossip about each other, the company, their bosses, and even the people in their personal lives.

Face Up to It

Pretending that everyone on your team is an absolute peach is unrealistic and will only cause stress. You know who is difficult to work with and who isn’t. But you can begin helping those employees better themselves or get the sense that it’s time to move on while being ethical, polite, and even nice.

If you believe that people are having trouble because they don’t feel heard give them the chance to speak. You may also set aside time for each person to develop one of the skills necessary for their position or a position they aim to enter within the company.

Many managers are choosing to discuss the team dynamic as a group or allowing people to anonymously submit their insight into the team. The biggest step you can take in transforming your staff into a group of team-focused people is to observe, listen, and then carefully, act.


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