How to Manage a Difficult Employee! ©
by Ernest F. Oriente, The Coach

Having to manage a difficult employee is never fun and can be the most challenging part of your responsibilities as a business manager. While this is a frustrating area for everyone involved, this article will address a step-by-step way to consistently and confidently handle the most challenging employee situations.

Addressing the problem: When you first realize you are having a problem with an employee you are responsible to manage, bring this individual behind closed doors and discuss your specific concerns.

The conversation should be brief and to the point, making certain your employee understands the concerns you have and the improvements you expect. Be specific with your comments and only address the business concerns you have, setting aside any personal issues.

Of course, always look to support this member of your team in any way possible with the intention of a positive outcome.

Tip from The Coach: As this is the first meeting you are having with your employee to discuss your concerns, take notes during this meeting, date them, and place them into this person’s employee file. This will serve as a reminder of the problems you expressed during this meeting and will document the first time you asked this employee to specifically improve their performance. This is also the perfect time to review together this person’s written job description and is another way to clarify your expectations.

Continuing problems: If problems persist with this same employee, bring this individual again behind closed doors and present a written memo recapping your concerns.

In this memo, list the day/date of your first meeting when you discussed your initial problems with this individual’s performance and list specific areas of improvement which must happen.

Remember, when you are requesting improved performance, the improvements must be measurable and must have a time frame or date when these improvements will be measured and reviewed again.

Tip from The Coach: After you present your written memo outlining your concerns, have your employee sign and date this document which validates the points discussed during this meeting. In your memo, be certain to include the words, "failure to improve your performance, may lead to termination." This makes your intentions perfectly clear. Of course, always consult with your immediate supervisor, your human resource department and your legal counsel, so everyone is in the loop, prior to presenting your memo.

Terminating this employee: If necessary, termination of this employee may be required. If so, make the termination, swiftly. This person’s attitude can be detrimental to the morale of your team and their attitude might be affecting those around them.

The termination meeting should be done at the end of the day so this person’s departure will not disrupt others. Make certain the meeting is brief and you state exactly why this person is being terminated.

Have all final paperwork ready for signature and have your immediate supervisor present, if possible.

Tip from The Coach: Sadly, the termination of an employee is not a pleasant part of business management. On a positive note, take the time to analyze what went wrong and look for possible solutions. Ask yourself, "was this person the perfect fit for the position, did we give this person proper training, could I have done anything to change the course of this situation?" In asking these questions, sometimes very positive improvements can be made. Employee terminations and the investment to hire a new person, is expensive and should not be taken lightly.

Author’s note: Ernest F. Oriente, The Coach, founder of PowerHour®, a professional business coaching service delivering customized training, by telephone, in management, marketing and sales for property management companies, apartment locator/corporate housing services and publishing companies worldwide. We specialize in global distance learning by telephone, using our state-of-the-art conference call system for interactive and dynamic TeleForums. Twice-monthly TeleForums link 10 -100 executives/ professionals/ individuals who are geographically dispersed, in a time efficient and profitable format. PowerHour® is based in ski-town—Park City, Utah, at 435-615-8486, by E-mail or visit our TeleForum website: To receive a FREE property management success newsletter send an E-mail to: Recent PowerHour® articles have appeared in 1500+ business/trade publications and websites.

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