How to manage problem employees

Employees aren't perfect but there are certain behaviours that can frustrate and demoralise the rest of the team.

However, if these troublesome employees are not managed correctly it could exacerbate the problem and create even more tension in the workplace.

According to Rachel Johnson, owner of Palomino Training Solutions, there are several types of problem employees that can be found in the workplace.

Johnson highlights 4 common bad behaviours at work and how to deal with it.

The Over-Dependent Employee

These employees seem to be incapable of making their own decisions even if those decisions are within their scope of authority. Their need for constant guidance and approval takes time away from other employees and tasks.

Share information regularly and clearly define their role
Assess whether you have been too critical in the past about a task
Use questions instead of recommendations
Request ideas or solutions to problems

The Lazy Employee

These employees produce good work but not enough of it. This can be very frustrating for a manager if the performance isn't poor enough to warrant a dismissal. As a manager you would like more out of your employee and you know they are capable of giving it, explains Johnson.

Set specific goals and standards
Monitor performance to make sure standards and goals are observed
Never pile on work suddenly
Present more challenging work opportunities

The Hostile Employee

These workers are "rude, ill-tempered and resist socialising". Their work is good, but their anti-social behaviour negatively affects the office. They are often resistant to supervision and are prone to hostile behaviour towards team members.

Try not to take the hostility personally
Don't respond in kind
Explain the consequences of bad behaviour if necessary
Use praise when it's deserved

The Chronic Complainer

These people complain about everything says Johnson. Whether it's the holiday policy, company benefits, work assignments or other employees, chronic complainers are never satisfied. They can become a "demoralising influence" on other staff members.

Give recognition
Avoid giving advice or suggestions that can be construed as criticism
Acknowledge their feelings
Check to see if their grievance is more widely held

For more insights, join the upcoming 2019 Supervisory Skills courses that will be held on 8 March, 16 April and 7 May in Cape Town, Pretoria and Durban. The cost is R2,295 ex vat per delegate (contact for excellent onsite rates). This one-day interactive course includes modules on planning, delegation, communication and much more.

This course is also available as an onsite option at your work premises (contact us for the very competitive prices) and also as an online (e-learning) option.

“Our aim is for delegates to leave our workshops feeling inspired and motivated, with a wealth of knowledge and hands-on tools that they are able to implement immediately,” says Johnson.

For more information, contact Rachel Johnson on 082-878-1164, email [email protected] or visit

By Cindy Payle - Portal Publishing