Dealing with difficult employee behaviour


How do you stop tears, anger and inappropriate emotional outbursts in the workplace? The new Assertive Communication Skills for Women course presented by HR specialist Lizanne de Jong will teach you to formulate assertive responses to a variety of difficult business situations.

Aggressive behaviour in the workplace can be described as the outward display of an internal battle brought on by personal issues. While most people face adversity, aggressive employees are unable to manage their emotions. "They adopt a victim mentality and don?t take responsibility for their own actions' says de Jong.

There are two major types of difficult or defiant behaviour in the workplace that requires swift action; aggressive behaviour and passive-aggressive behaviour.
Aggressive individuals are easy to spot. Their behaviour is openly hostile and negative.

Individuals who are unable to express their opinion at home, in particular women who have domineering partners, may use the work environment as an outlet for their frustration.

Passive-aggressive individuals are generally harder to diagnose. Look out for employees who are silent, withdrawn or frequently absent. Don?t assume that every introvert is a closet passive-aggressive, but be aware of individuals who display these behaviours and monitor the situation.

The code of conduct is the first point of defence against individuals who display defiant behaviour. Reinforce the requirements and boundaries set out by the code so that employees know their limits.

Discipline dominating or disrespectful employees, says Lizanne. The view that difficult behaviour should not be tolerated at work is no longer a very popular one. However being a good manager sometimes means making those unpopular decisions for the benefit of the company.

Unreasonable requests which are not handled correctly can leave managers feeling guilty or incompetent. In these situations remember that the manager?s role is not always to accommodate others but to ensure that everyone is treated fairly, cautions De Jong.

There is no one size fits all solution to dealing with difficult behaviour. Remember that every employee is different and deal with them on the merits of their individual case.

When is it necessary to start an official disciplinary procedure?

According to Lizanne individuals who consistently display difficult behaviour should be disciplined. If an employee is defiant more than three times, managers are well advised to begin the disciplinary process.

De Jong believes that the offensive behaviour should be punished so that employees will realize the seriousness of their actions and understand that negative behaviour results in negative consequences.

In order to successfully manage your own anger and control your emotions self-knowledge is essential, says Lizanne. "Know your buttons'.

Communicating expectations and acceptable standards of behaviour and leading by example will help to create a productive work environment.

For more insights on managing negative behaviours in the workplace join the Assertive Communication Skills for Women course which will be run by Alusani Skills and Training Network on the 26th and 27th June 2012 in Johannesburg. For more information call 011 447 7470, email or visit the website Alusani Skills and Training Network

By Cindy Payle

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