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Tough Issues, Tough People: Strategies for Dealing with Difficult Employees. February 21, 2006 Richard W. Sears, Psy. D., MBA www.psych-insights.com [email protected] What Constitutes a “Difficult Employee?”. Different definitions depending on the individual

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tough issues tough people strategies for dealing with difficult employees

Tough Issues, Tough People:Strategies for Dealing withDifficult Employees

February 21, 2006

Richard W. Sears, Psy. D., MBA

www.psych-insights.com

[email protected]

what constitutes a difficult employee
What Constitutes a“Difficult Employee?”
  • Different definitions depending on the individual
  • Vice-president with “Personality Issues”
    • employees in tears at staff meetings – requisitions for a pencil
    • diversity concerns
    • employee fear of repercussions
    • VP acted nicely around superiors
    • President resigned
general considerations
General Considerations
  • Framework for setting objective standards
  • Obstacles to objectivity
  • Mental health issues
  • Diversity issues
  • Legal considerations
importance of objectivity
Importance of Objectivity
  • Reduces impressions of favoritism
  • Minimizes concerns about “personality issues”
  • Provides clear standards of performance expectations
  • Serves as documentation in case of future problems
  • Provides legal record in case of litigation
conference agenda for dealing with a difficult employee behavior
Conference Agenda for Dealing with a Difficult Employee Behavior

I. Introduction

II. Report the Problem

III. Explore the causes of the problem

IV. Corrective Actions

V. Close

(Also contains the 6 steps of an intervention model)

From Sears, R., Rudisill, R., & Mason-Sears, C. (2006). Consultation Skills for Mental Health Professionals. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

conference agenda
Conference Agenda

I. Introduction

A. State the purpose of the meeting

B. State what you want to accomplish

conference agenda1
Conference Agenda

II. Report the Problem

A. Step 1: Identify and define the performance problem

B. Step 2: Explain the impact of the problem

conference agenda2
Conference Agenda

III. Explore the causes of the problem

A. Listen to employee’s thoughts and reactions to what you have reported

B. Step 3: Analyze the reasons for the problem 1. Discuss reasons with employee; test your own ideas, as appropriate

2. Discuss your influence on the situation

conference agenda3
Conference Agenda

IV. Corrective Actions

A. Step 4: Define the expected performance standard(s)

B. Step 5: Explore ideas for a solution

C. Step 6: Write the plan for improvement

conference agenda4
Conference Agenda

V. Close

A. Recap key points and review your plan to finalize it

B. Make sure a follow-up meeting is set

case follow up
Case follow-up
  • New president gathered data
  • Met with VP
  • Set performance standards
obstacles to objectivity
Obstacles to Objectivity
  • History with the individual
  • Personal biases
  • Talking/listening to third parties
  • Unreasonable expectations
emotional management
Emotional Management
  • Development of competence in handling your own as well as the emotions of others
  • Emotions come in layers
  • Importance of self-monitoring
abc framework
ABC Framework

A  B  C

A = antecedent / activating event

B = belief / behavior

C = consequence

mental health issues
Mental Health Issues
  • Must balance reasonable accommodations with reasonable performance expectations
  • Importance of EAP (Employee Assistance Program)
common mental health issues
Common Mental Health Issues
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • PTSD
  • Personality Disorders
    • Narcissistic
    • Antisocial
    • Schizoid
    • Borderline
if in doubt consult
If in doubt, consult!
  • Talk to supervisors
  • Discuss with peers (considering confidentiality)
  • Maintain contact with professional groups
  • Consider legal & ethical ramifications
  • Consider diversity issues
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