How to Transform Troublesome Employees into Tremendous Team Players

Difficult employees might be the most vexing part of a manager’s job. A supervisor’s first instinct may be to terminate those “problem people” straightaway.

However, good leaders would first determine whether they can help guide the employees to best use their strengths (and downplay their weaknesses) in ways that will benefit the team and overall organization.

When dealing with difficult people, why is it important for a leader to change his or her mindset?

I have met a number of managers who have the idea that the troublesome employee should simply be fired. Others have a fear of conflict, which leads them to wait too long to confront problems and then feel they are forced to remove the individual.

These mindsets are problematic because they result in a loss of energy and talent for the whole organization. These people who seem unleadable almost always have a number of strong gifts they can bring to the organization. But perhaps one of their traits has crossed a line and is doing damage.

For example, unbridled cynicism is a difficult problem, but underneath the negative comments lies a great skill. The Cynic could help the organization by identifying potential problems in a project early on—but only if handled the right way.