Types Of Difficult Employees In New Zealand Business Essay

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It is impossible to change people by simply ordering certain behaviour. From bullying to failing to engage, they are a problem for the organisation, for their colleagues and a matter of fact even for themselves.

A manager needs to recognise that it is not the employee that needs to be changed but simply the attitude of the employee that needs a reversal, which can be achieved through the right leadership, training and counsel. It is an ongoing process and not a one day task.

This report will look at the types of such employee attitudes and suggest a few ways of appropriately dealing with them. It includes the organizational aspect looking within as well as looking outside. Some may seem to be personal problems but if they are brought to the workplace and that behavior leads to an offensive, intimidating or hostile work environment, which then in turn affects productivity, ethics and work cultures, then it doesn't remain personal and then goes to become everyone's problem.


Types of Difficult Employees

Here are a few types of difficult employees and some ways to manage them:

1.  Criticizers or Pessimists

These kinds of employees are the ones that always look at the glass half empty. They are always able to find the downside of any situation. This kind of morale not only brings down the individual himself but also the colleagues he interacts with. They are critical of everything and view each instance with a wary eye. Some people do it to make themselves look better in front of others and pick fights for no apparent reason. They are largely an insecure lot.

Managing them: These employees need to be handled tactfully by offering assistance when required. Lending a caring, listening ear usually helps alleviate the problem. Managers can focus on their strong points and help them to excel in those areas by using their performance as positive reinforcement. Providing appropriate counseling and training to enhance their skills also help to build a positive attitude. At times, look for their strong points, where they excel. See if there is an area they can be responsible for that will help build a positive attitude.  If none of the above helps their constant negativity towards their work might need stricter action.

2.  Perfectionists

These kinds of people need everything to be done to the hilt and will settle for no less. They make poor supervisors as they set unobtainable goals and standards of operation. They feel anything that is done could have been done better especially by them and thus render another's work or effort useless. This leads to negativity and demotivation in a workplace. They find it hard to let go of anything and are also tough on themselves. They usually experience feelings of failure as they are unable to meet the high goals set by their idealist thinking.

Recommendation: Assist these employees to blend in with the rest by setting a deadline and sticking to it.  Perfectionists find it harder to accept criticism about their work and hence must be given tasks that work at the macro level instead of tasks that require them to look into details. They need to learn that things won't fall apart if they relax their tight grip on everything.

3.  Tardiness

A slacker is what this person is usually known as and is one of the biggest setbacks a team can have. This kind of person has no value for ones time especially that of others. He is hopeless at managing himself, meeting targets and deadlines and habitually late to work. He may also manage to slide out of doing his bit, is late back from lunch, spends much of office time on personal calls and arbitrary internet surfing and makes everything apart from work - important. There are excuses galore for everything from car problems, to system issues, to stress and family life. He is only set into motion once the given deadline is standing on his head.

Recommendation: This employee needs to be dealt with as quickly as possible. A warning or two usually works on most employees; strict disciplinary action must be taken on those who show no will to improve. Time Management skills, structuring the employee make a huge difference. Remember it is behavior that needs to change not the person. This person needs tight structure and checking.

4. Bossiness

These kinds of employees feel the need to dominate people and only feel good about them when they have made others do their bidding. They experience a sense of power and self worth when they make you out to be a puppet and follow their every word. They walk all over people without a thought to their feelings or emotions.

Recommendation: A sense of balance needs to be restored by removing the bossiness from the situation and, channeling the employee's enthusiasm into more productive outcomes instead. A bossy person who is shown boundaries and a path with clarity will quickly learn to respect the lines drawn.

5.  Chronic Complainers

Exactly as the word says, these employees complain all the time. They are fault-finding, blaming, and certain about what should be done but they never seem able to correct the situation by themselves. Often they have a point as there are real problems, but their complaining is not effective enough. They show it to prove someone else is responsible and usually at fault. These people can be just plain annoying.  However, in reality they are less dangerous than the other personality types you may have to deal within a workplace.

Recommendation: Try listening to their complains and offer resolutions keeping their personality type in mind, often enough they will find an answer within themselves and move on with it . Being positive and friendly does spread over. Try checking on their wellbeing periodically.

6.  Substance Users/Alcohol

This is a situation that needs to be carefully managed with a high degree of caution as the law and human life is involved. It would be recommended that expert advice be sought before tackling this kind of a situation and employee. There are many places to find the advice needed: Department of Labour, EMA as well as the Legal / Justice Department.

7. Stallers

These kinds of people defer making decisions for fear of displeasing their superiors. Sometimes they are unable to arrive at a decision themselves but take no responsibility for the same. Often blaming external reasons for their actions or decisions. They are adept at making excuses and low self esteem. They try to garner sympathy from others and use it to manipulate workplace situations.

Recommendations: these kinds of people need to be again given a clear direction and set of instructions. They must be made to work against deadlines and be held responsible for tasks assigned. It is important to deal with them in a detached and unbiased manner. Their stories must be looked at, as just those… simply stories. A must to deal with quickly as it affects the final output of a team and finally the office on the whole.


To support my findings:

In my above findings regarding difficult employees in the NZ workplace, I have highlighted 7 categories of employees, their unique and different ways of interacting with others in the workplace. I have also incorporated within these a few recommendations on how we could extract the best from the worst.

Further to this there are few NZ cases that need to be looked at as examples:

"Mushroom farm worker Kirsten Bennett was dismissed in 2006 for behaviour that management saw as difficult, including throwing mushroom stalks at a fellow employee and "disruptive and disharmonious" behaviour after she had undergone training to help her understand the issue of bullying".

"Cathy managed a team of 8 employees.  She started to notice that one of her employees (Betty) was engaging in covert undermining behaviors' such as rolling her eyes at team meetings when Cathy talked about new initiatives.  Cathy decided to broach the subject with Betty in her next individual performance appraisal.  Much to Cathy's surprise, Betty became highly indignant and told her that she was mistaken and being paranoid.  Cathy was confused and even started to doubt herself.  She ended up apologising to Betty and wishing she had never brought the subject up. As a manager, it is vital that you promote assertive communication and highlight to your team that passive aggressive behaviors' are not healthy.  Cathy was helped to recognize that, the function of Betty's behaviour was to create doubt over Cathy's leadership ability and decrease team motivation for new initiatives".

Both the above cases highlight inappropriate behaviour from employees in different forms in their individual work places. These examples now have some Managers working alongside their employees to bring about positive results from them. Most employers need the following objectives to turn around a difficult employee into a much better & improved team player.

Objectives which Management staff need to adopt to bring about a change:


GROW Model

G - GROW - Agree on a topic of discussion / specific object / set long term goal.

R - REALITY - Invite self assessment / Offer specific feedback / Avoid assumption / discard irrelevant list

O - Options - Cover full range of options / Invite suggestions from 'coacher' / offer suggestions carefully / ensure choices are made.

W - WRAP UP - Commit to action / Identify possible obstacles / Make steps specific / Define timing / agree on support.


Make a list of things you really want. (Tangible, intangible, personal, business)

Set the Primary goal - Must be high enough, realistic, time limit approx 3mths.

Define goal in complete detail (facts and figures)

Have all facts down correctly.

Set deadline.

Carry the goals with you.

Imagine you have achieved the goal.


Set an objective.

Appoint key people.

Allocate responsibilities.

Decide completion date.

Give each person the plan copy.

Keep all informed.

Check budget requirement.

Listen effectively and be proactive towards requirements

Have an insight into some difficult behaviour and examine what might be driving them

Develop your ability to spot different personality types and ensure the best ways to deal with them

Chalk up training and counseling program for all employees touching upon such matters and issues found within the organization.

Demonstrate how you can obtain cooperation from hard to please and difficult people 

Ensure you get better results when dealing with other people both within your organization and externally

Assist you in identifying problem performers and personalities in your workplace

Ensure that you understand the common types of poor performers, and how each type should be handled

Help you to stay in control of even the most aggressive of employees

Show you how to effectively coach and counsel staff back onto the high-performing track

Guarantee a more productive and positive team, where high performance is the standard

All the above objectives can be shown in the diagram below:

Model to show change

GOAL: Focus on




Behavioural Identify

Change Issues




Make the most of the differences you have with others

Trust that the other person also wants harmony

Communicate assertively

Learn from others and allow them to learn from you

Do not ignore difficult behaviors'

Focus on future behaviors'


So - the next time you are faced with a tricky situation, consider it a learning curve. You can change environments and your own behavior to motivate others to change themselves. Just as people generally view situations from their own perspective, they also do things for their own reasons. You cannot make a 'difficult' person change; the reason or want for change has to come from within themselves. Remember the only constant is change.

Be sure to remember how crucial it is to include the whole team when goal setting. The procedure for turning the most difficult person into a valuable and productive employee is based on a principle of locates, isolate and remediate. Really, it's that simple!

All difficult employees should know the actual problem at their workplace could possibly be themselves!

It's not very easy to change mannerisms in people, goes like the saying: You can't teach an old dog new tricks. People's behavior towards colleagues and associates need to be hence continuously monitored. All kinds of difficult behavior from one end of the scale to the other are a problem for the organization. Hence it is evident that discipline or controlled behavior has to come from within oneself and one has to conform to the social norms and laws. Any non-conformity is, therefore, termed as indiscipline and needs correction by an external factor. Whilst most persons adhere to discipline for most part of the time, there are few 'non-conformists' who believe in making their own rules, hence, they need to be corrected in the interest of safety, and for upholding the various norms of the industry. When correction becomes impossible, only then, removal is mooted.

There are two approaches to addressing the problem of discipline via persuasive approach and punitive approach. Whilst there are volumes of case laws and literature available on the legal (punitive approach), the same is not the case with then persuasive / practical approach. However, one has to use his own common sense for this.

When you see a person doing something wrong, advise him not to do so, counsel him. Watch and wait. If he does the same again, reprimand him, orally. A note to this effect could be put in his file. Surprisingly as it may seem, more often than not, people respond to such persuasive and positive approaches and refrain from repeating the incident. In practice, a combination of both the approaches is desirable.

The above report therefore has listed out the types of difficult employees in a workplace and a few ways of dealing appropriately with them within an organization. Difficult people in an office are a sure shot way of leading it to becoming non productive and an unhealthy working environment not many would like to come to daily.

Works cited & References

Excerpts have also been quoted from a few of the sites listed below




Source: http://EzineArticles.com/1352335

www.NZ Herald.com


Westpac Bank Newsletters

Department of Labour NZ bylaws and memorandums

Inland Revenue Department of NZ

Getting to YES: Negotiating Agreement without Giving In, by Roger Fisher and William L. Ury,

Getting Past NO by Ury.

'Resolving Conflicts at Work' by Ken Cloke

'Taming the Difficult Employee' by Nancy Aldrich M.D.

Excerpts from http://www.goodbusiness.co.nz/tools/dealing-with-difficult-employees/