Cactus managing a difficult employee
Managing a difficult employee
Posted by Stuart Falconer • July 19, 2021

During my long career in HR management and HR consulting, I can count on one hand the number of top quality managers I have met. By top quality I mean managers that understand their role inside out, not just operationally but also the responsibility on their shoulders to undertake their job with the appropriate qualities. What does that mean when it comes to managing a difficult employee? The answer might surprise you . . .

What are the qualities of a top notch manager?
  • The ability to create a culture of trust
  • A focus on employee strengths and helping develop them
  • Effective communication skills
  • Avoid micromanaging
  • Assertiveness
  • Being able to handle pressure well.

But ask yourself a question: Why are there so few managers that possess those skills? Maybe the more pertinent question is: What are the consequences of not possessing these skills?

The consequences of poor management

Ultimately, if managers don’t have the right skills and qualities, there is likely to be a consequence. What that consequence is depends on what skill is lacking and how the employee on the receiving end is being managed.

How would an employee react if there was no culture of trust? How would an employee feel if their manager didn’t focus on their strengths or make active attempts to develop them? What if there was no effective communication?

You can see where I’m going with this. The upshot of not possessing these skills is likely to be an employee perceived as being difficult because they’re not doing what’s being asked or expected of them. How do you make someone do something they’re not doing if you don’t possess the appropriate skills to guide them? Is it therefore about managing a difficult employee or is it something else?

Why am I asking so many questions?

The purpose is to make you think and to make you consider where you are at right now and why you might find yourself managing a difficult employee.

Interesting, right? Final question! (Promise.) Which came first – the poor manager or the difficult employee?

Morgan Thomson HR can help you support your staff and management. To find out what we can do for your business, contact me on 0345 095 0139 or email