Four steps to deal with difficult employee behaviors

Four steps to deal with difficult employee behaviors

Master these four steps to deal with difficult employee behaviors.


Getting people to do what you need them to do is challenging, especially in times of great change and uncertainty. We have people working remotely, where distance has eroded trust or people are working more than ever. Everyone’s stress levels are high right now because most people fear the unknown… It’s a perfect storm for conflict.


I’ll bet just knowing that makes you feel better because we’re all in this together, we haven’t been here before, and we’re writing the rulebook or how-to guides as we’re moving through it.


I’m going to rely on some foundational steps I’ve been using for years to teach people how to deal with difficult employee behavior.




  • Giving and receiving effective feedback is a skill that always needs about as much exercise as your abs do during the pandemic. (Someone told me recently that they needed to socially distance from their refrigerator and flatten their curve!!). People have a big appetite for feedback, so feed it.
  • Setting Boundaries? People feel safer with boundaries than without them, even if their initial reaction to them smells like dead fish. Their respect for their leaders increases when boundaries are established and maintained.
  • Having difficult conversations. This is the step most people would rather sweep under the carpet. Feel the fear and do it anyway! It gets easier with time.
  • Follow Up and Follow Through. Everyone respects a leader who sets a standard and holds true to it. The benefits are conversations, clarity, consistency, and compliance, and that’s a foundation you can build your greatest castle upon.


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