Unmanageable employees are typically known for having difficult and less-than-favourable behaviour around the workplace. Be it being unable to get along with their peers, fail to respond well to authority, or unwillingness to listen to feedback, having unmanageable employees on board cannot only hamper day-to-day business performance but also threaten company’s long term success as they could affect their coworkers’ morale.
Weber Shandwick’s survey found that nearly 1 in 4 (25 percent) employees said that they quit their job due to an uncivil workplace caused by difficult employees, while additional 87 percent of employees suggested that workplace incivility has an impact on work performance, including suffered morale, desire to quit, feel anger toward co-workers, frequent sickness, and feel less creative.
While firing unmanagable employees as soon as possible seems to be the best option to prevent further deficiency, it might not always be the best solution. That being said, when you find your employees are impossible to manage, HR leaders should first identify the root of the problem. Why do they act in such a way? Is it because of their own personal problems that then affect their professional behaviour? Or is it that these unmanageable employees seek more recognition?
Liz Kislik, the president at Liz Kislik Associates LLC, said that it is important to identify the root cause to find the best solution. Most often, unmanageable behaviour is meant to make oneself look strong, or that your unmanageable employees worry that they will look stupid or incompetent.
When the problem is clear, HR should assist managers to handle the situation. Here is Kislik’s advice to help you handle the unmanageable employees.
This strategy is suitable for a functional leader or leader with a smaller team, advised Kislik. Instead of pushing and giving feedback that might be diminished by the unmanageable employees, strengthening their skills and minimising their managerial responsibilities likely results in fewer obstacles and less unhappiness among subordinates and superior. This might create a win-win solution for both employees and employer.
Some employees become hard to manage because they feel insecure in a new role with a significant change of responsibilities. For example, Sam was being promoted to a new manager in X branch company. He was really concerned about not looking stupid, weak, or outdated. Thus, he became reactive and defensive towards other’s behaviour. However, when his leader showed good respect, he worked with loyalty and showed good efforts.
In this case, said Kislik, it is better for HR to focus on Sam’s quality. Once he feels familiar with the changes and expectations, HR leaders can give a further understanding of how to manage a team. This might take more time but with the right assistance, there could be a significant improvement around the office.
The behaviour of oppositional employees might be damaging from the surface. However, their idea towards that behaviour might be one of the keys to bringing success for your company. Therefore, it is – sometimes – wiser to consider that your unmanageable employee’s choice is right. Following this point, you should also know where to draw the line and cut the employees all at once. As an example, there is no change in both his behaviour and idea. Despite the success, other teams are complaining about his behaviour which damages organisation culture. When the negative result is more significant than the positive, added Kislik, executive leaders should be involved and finally, letting go of the unmanageable employees is the best choice.