Top tips for dealing with difficult people in the workplace

How can you effectively deal with difficult people and ensure that you are getting the best out of every employee and in turn increase productivity? Here are my top tips:

  • Don’t Delay: as with almost every HR issue ignoring or procrastinating on a situation does not work. Where difficult people are concerned it can actually get worse with time. Deal with the situation immediately to ensure the difficult behaviour does not escalate
  •  Be objective: do not let personal opinion or emotion cloud your judgement
  • Investigate: does a pattern exist? Are there any trigger factors that cause the individual behave badly? There may be underlying reasons for the behaviour and identifying them can be the key to resolving the situation
  • Speak to the ‘difficult person’ informally: this will also help diffuse the situation quickly. It is easy to look at the bad but give the employee the benefit of the doubt and ask them what the issues are from their point of view as well as pointing out tactfully that there is a problem
  • Conduct regular follow up: this ensures that the problem does not recur
  • Focus on the actionable: look at decisive steps that you can take to correct the situation e.g. re-distribution of work, addressing the team dynamic etc.

Don’t forget our forthcoming Dealing with Difficult People and Conversations Workshop.

If you have ever been in a difficult situation or feel you would like to be well prepared should a situation arise in the future then you cannot afford to miss this workshop. We will outline the dangers of ignoring the issue, the importance of acting promptly and will give you five key tips to help you prepare for difficult conversations. In addition, we invite you to bring your ‘difficult conversations’ with you for us all to discuss in our open forum.

This event is taking place on 13th September at the Hennerton Golf Club. For more information and to book your place please contact me at

Difficult People in the Workplace

We all come across difficult people in every aspect of our lives and whilst in our personal lives we can simply choose to avoid them in the workplace this is not an option. As a ‘boss’ you have to manage the good and the bad and try the best out of every employee.

Difficult people come in all shapes and sizes – they might be ignorant of others views, bad time keepers, or at the other end of the scale they might be aggressive or intimidating towards their colleagues. Whatever the individual issue, bad behavior by an employee can be damaging for your business.

Difficult behavior will not only have a negative impact on the employees own performance but also on the performance of those around them, with the knock on effects of potential grievance issues, reputation damage and financial risk. As the manager it can also have a direct effect on you personally. Not only can the behavior of a difficult employee cause you stress, failure to deal with them can leave your employees feeling that you are incapable of dealing with difficult situations and undermine your authority

So what to do?  In next week’s blog we will give you some top tips for dealing with difficult people effectively.

Dealing with Gross Misconduct

What do you do when a trusted employee acts in such a way as to fundamentally breach the contractual relationship you have in place between you?

No easy task and always a worse nightmare situation for any employer, acts of gross misconduct are unfortunately all too often a reality we have to face.  So what tools do you have in your armour to help you deal with the situation quickly, efficiently and with the minimum of damage to your business?

Where gross misconduct is concerned you have the right to implement a summary dismissal procedure, an immediate dismissal without notice or payment in lieu of notice, as long as you can demonstrate that you have a solid reason, have conducted a thorough investigation and have followed proper procedure.  However, it is advisable in all except the most extreme cases to conduct a full disciplinary process first including two to three warnings (written and verbal) and provision for the employee to appeal.

Dismissal is always a last resort but armour up and ensure you have the right procedures in places to deal with this if you have to.

Causes of Lack of Capability: Stress

We have looked a lot at capability issues over the last few weeks.  As mentioned previously capability refers to an employee’s skills, ability, aptitude and knowledge in relation to the job that he or she is employed to do.  The key feature of lack of capability is that it is not the employee’s fault and is generally outside the employee’s control.  With this in mind in this week’s blog we are looking at stress as a cause of lack of capability in the workplace.

The HSC define stress as an adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them.  Whilst there is no specific legislation as to how to handle stress in the workplace, as an employer you have a duty of care to take reasonable measures to manage stress under the Health and Safety at Work Act.  This is not only for the benefit of your employees but also for the benefit and long term success of your business.

Stress has a significant impact on your bottom line! It is estimated that on average in the UK 10.8 million working days are lost each year as a result of stress, and the cost of sickness absence resulting from work-related mental health problems, of which stress is undoubtedly the primary cause, costs on average £120 per day.

Whilst it is impossible to eliminate all pressures from the workplace you must do everything in your power to reduce the risk of harm and be aware of the early warning signs before it is too late.  These can include past history of stress, increases in absence, physical manifestation such as rashes, changes to behaviour e.g. irritability and complaints from peers.

When you suspect an employee is suffering from the early signs of stress act immediately.  Consider the amount and type of work the employee undertakes and what changes can be made; provide extra supervision and support and offer counselling.  Getting it wrong or not dealing with this issue effectively can result in damaging, in terms of cost and reputation, negligence and personal injury claims.

How thorough is your recruitment process? Here are our top tips:

Step 1 Preparation:

The key is to put together a comprehensive Job analysis, job description and personality specification – why is the role needed what skills, knowledge and experience does your new employee need to have?  In addition, conduct salary benchmarking, in the market and internally, to ensure you are attracting the right caliber of candidate.

Step 2: Attracting and selecting the right candidate:

There are many tools at your disposal in this regard – advertising, social media, word of mouth, recruitment agencies, websites, job centre etc.  Select the right one/combination to ensure you reach your target audience.   Once you have collected CV’s use these to put together a shortlist for interview, this will give a you full picture of the individual and whether or not they are a match for your organisation and the role you are recruiting for.  Additionally, you can utilise tools such as psychometric testing and practical exercises to see how the individual performs outside of the formal interview process.  Once you have selected the right candidate make them an offer in writing.

Step 3: Legal Compliance

Once you have selected the best candidate for the role there are certain legal requirements you must undertake including discrimination profiling, a medical questionnaire, eligibility to work in the UK and proof of adequate references.  In addition dependent on the role you are recruiting for you may also need to ensure you are paying minimum wage, conduct a CRB check and gather the required documentation to confirm that the candidate is eligible to work in the UK.

For more information on how to get the most out of your recruitment process please contact me at .  The Options HR team have a vast amount of experience in:

  • Personality profiling
  • Helping you to shortlist and interview candidates
  • Guiding you through the selection process
  • Preparing, reviewing and amending offer letters and contracts of employment
  • Developing induction procedures.