Unwrapping and Managing Difficult Employees

Guest post from Beth Miller:

We’ve all been challenged with at least one difficult person at work. Why do they have to be so rude, dismissive, abrasive, etc.? Difficult employees aren’t the person who has a bad day and acts out in appropriately, they are the ones who have gained a reputation for being difficult.

And, if they are spreading their bad behavior to others and having a negative impact on the team, then they are more than difficult, they are toxic.

Why are they so difficult? This is the first question that you need to ask yourself. Experience has shown me that there is often an underlying reason for the person’s unwanted behavior. Schedule 1-1 time with the employee, as soon as you notice a pattern of bad behavior. Not addressing the behavior in a timely manner is just an initiation for more of the same thing.

Get curious first. Is it the job? Is it a personal issue? Are there team members that are causing stress? Or, is it just who they are?

If you find that there is a reason behind their behavior and not just their personality, then it’s time to help.


Once you understand the underlying reason for your employee’s bad behavior then it’s time to coach. Coaching your difficult employee to understand the impact they have on others and themselves is your first step to mitigating the problem behavior. The next step is getting them to commit to change and taking action.

Explore with them how their behavior is impacting them and their performance by asking these questions during a 1-1 meeting:

How do you think people react when you are __________ to them?

How can their reactions to you potentially impact you negatively?

How does this this behavior show up outside of work?

How does this behavior help you?

What triggers this behavior? A person, a task, a situation?

What do you think will happen if you continue to behave this way?

Once they agree that their behavior isn’t benefitting them or others around them, then it’s time for them to put a plan together to change. Ask these questions:

What steps can you take to decrease this behavior?

How would you know these steps are working?

When do you plan on resolving the situation?

How committed are you to changing on a scale of 1-10?

What would it take to increase your commitment by 1 point?

Communicate Clearly

For some individuals, asking questions to get them to self-reflect may not be enough. This is when you have to give your feedback to them. Give them concrete examples in a timely manner of what you’ve observed. A great technique to use is by starting with “Can I share an observation with you?” I have never had someone answer no to this question. And answering yes gives you permission to share your feedback.

Define for them what behavior is acceptable moving forward, what changes need to occur with measurable goals. Then jointly create a development plan with a specific timeline. I recommend a 30-60-90 day plan. You want to see some immediate small changes that will incrementally become larger over time. Be prepared to have additional 1-1 meetings with the person during this time.

Explain the Consequences

Once you have coached and provided then with direct feedback, they need to understand the consequences of not meeting their commitment. Generally, a loss is more of a motivator than a gain. Determine what will motivate them. Is it a loss of privileges to work remotely, an upcoming bonus, or rescinding a high-profile project?

There will be some people that either can’t or won’t change their bad behaviors and you need to be prepared to part ways with them. Make sure in these cases that you document all the conversations, so you have established a pattern of behavior and the steps taken to address the situation, and the employee’s failure to change.

And remember through all of this, that dealing with negative employees can distract you from more important issues. Don’t spend all your time and energy on the difficult person, just enough to know that you provided the person with the opportunity to make the needed changes. If you ultimately let the employee go, don’t look back.  Just learn from your experience.

Beth Miller is an accomplished author, speaker, and solution provider; her insight and expertise make her a sought-after leadership influencer. A serial entrepreneur and executive coach as well as a former Vistage Chair of 13 years, Beth is featured in numerous industry blogs and publications including Entrepreneur, Leadercast, and TalentCulture.com. Her book, “Are You Talent Obsessed?,” compiles her best practices for business leaders.

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The coronavirus pandemic has reminded business leaders of some unsettling truths: that all assumptions and practices must be continually reexamined and that existential threats can come at any time, from any direction. This crisis will eventually pass. But its ramifications will ripple through the economy for years, and inevitably it will be followed by another global crisis — or an unforeseen revolution in the marketplace. How can companies strategize once they have recognized the limitations of long-term planning in an unpredictable world? By mercilessly examining their own weaknesses and vulnerabilities, and by gaming out their own destruction before someone — or something — does it for them.

In this article, we will walk you through an intensive, multipart exercise in that kind of creative destruction that we have field-tested with more than 1,500 leaders from around the world as part of executive education at INSEAD. Ordinarily, the process includes participants from multiple companies and plays out over several days as CEOs search for the surest way to demolish their respective companies from a competitor’s perspective. Here, we streamline the exercise for a single institution and a flexible time frame. Ideally, there should be four teams, each with as many as six members, working independently and sharing their insights later in a debriefing session. We call this undertaking the Phoenix Encounter Method because our true subject here is not the ashes of destruction but the revitalized company that will rise out of them.

A Journey in Three Stages

This process unfolds in three stages.

Stage 1: Groundwork. Prevailing mindsets and values are questioned. Major global trends are examined. Group members work toward a Phoenix Attitude, which embraces upheaval as a catalyst for change.

Stage 2: Battlefield. The facilitator delivers a short list of scenarios that could disrupt the company. The threats might be new technology, demographic shifts, social trends, or all of the above. Group members craft the most devastating attack and use it to shine a light on their business’s weaknesses.

Stage 3: Breakthrough. New strategic priorities are put in place. New business models are adopted. The Phoenix rises.

Read the Full Article

Reprint #:


Cultura organizacional, el ADN de las empresas – Expansión

En otras palabras, las prioridades de una organización moldean su cultura a través del tiempo, pues la misión, visión, objetivos y valores se trazarán de tal modo que sean congruentes entre sí; definir la dirección estratégica es un paso indispensable en la construcción de una cultura organizacional acorde con las metas de expansión corporativa y optimización.

Así, quienes ocupan posiciones de liderazgo dentro de una organización deben ser conscientes de que sus palabras y acciones dictan ejemplo entre los colaboradores; la imagen de la gerencia cuenta con un carácter expansivo al interior de una corporación. Cuando el comportamiento de un directivo no es acorde con el de la cultura organizacional, esta se debilita, puesto que su fortaleza se basa precisamente en la capacidad de asimilación y replicación por parte del personal de la empresa de manera vertical, así como también de modo transversal.

Entonces, es imprescindible que se elija adecuadamente a las personas que ocuparán posiciones con facultad de toma de decisiones, porque de su perfil idóneo para liderar dependerá que la cultura organizacional se arraigue o que, por el contrario, quede a la deriva y se diluya inevitablemente, trayendo riesgos significativos para la obtención de resultados favorables.

A grandes rasgos, podemos identificar una cultura organizacional bien implantada ahí donde es notorio que las prioridades se hallan alineadas y se reproducen una serie de conductas compartidas encaminadas a metas comunes. Por ello, al conseguir la consolidación de la cultura organizacional deseada, con certeza, se alcanzarán niveles de integración elevados, así como una estabilidad considerable dentro de la corporación.

En este sentido, toda empresa requiere abocarse a la gestión exitosa de su cultura organizacional, pues la creación de estos cimientos de valor no se da por generación espontánea, sino que precisa de un proceso interminable; si bien los principios difícilmente cambian, sí que es necesario adaptar las operaciones estratégicas de la organización a los cambios que se suscitan en el entorno, conservando la esencia y los ejes rectores de la empresa.

La misión y la visión no son meras aspiraciones ni ideas utópicas, sino que deben traducirse en un proyecto viable que guíe las decisiones y determinen el rumbo a seguir; la finalidad es construir buenas prácticas que lleven a resultados palpables. Una cultura organizacional sólida se traduce en ventajas competitivas y posicionamiento de mercado; por la misma razón de peso, representa un grave error el dejar a la deriva este proceso, puesto que la cultura organizacional precisa construirse de la mano del liderazgo y en torno a valores específicos. Ya lo decía Aristóteles: la excelencia no es un estado sino un hábito.

¿Cómo pueden las empresas reactivar la economía mexicana? | #CómoReactivarMéxico

Otra ventaja de apostar por robustecer la cultura organizacional consiste en la instauración de un marcado sentido de pertenencia e identidad en el personal. Cuando el ADN de la corporación se encuentra arraigado entre los colaboradores, su motivación es latente y la productividad incrementa. Más aún, es un hecho que las organizaciones con una fuerte cultura tienen muchas más probabilidades de resistir con éxito un período de crisis o adversidad.

¿Cómo conseguir que la cultura organizacional sea internalizada por cada miembro de la empresa? Definitivamente, la comunicación es clave para tal cometido. En primera instancia, debe transmitirse con claridad el sentido de propósito que caracteriza a la corporación; su esencia. Posteriormente, se cultivarán los principios que regirán las conductas, el lenguaje y las políticas por implementarse en el día a día; ello logrará imprimir una mística compartida.

Como corolario, la repetición de las buenas prácticas se convertirá en una difusión de hábitos persistentes. Propósito, principios y prácticas; una tríada poderosa para edificar la cultura organizacional que toda empresa necesita para trascender en un orbe de competitividad implacable y evolución constante.

Nota del editor: José Guillermo Fournier Ramos es docente en la Universidad Anáhuac Mayab. Vicepresidente de Masters A.C., asociación civil promotora de la comunicación efectiva y el liderazgo social. También es asesor en comunicación e imagen, analista y doctorando en Gobierno. Síguelo en Twitter y en LinkedIn . Las opiniones expresadas en esta columna pertenecen exclusivamente al autor.

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WHY I RISE – Powerful Motivational Speech Video (Featuring William Hollis)

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