In any company of any industry and size, individual employees will be individuals of their own accord. Some staff will respond differently to their equals depending on how they're handled or the management style that has been implemented. Therefore, when it comes to managing difficult staff members, there isn't fundamentally an universal resolution, nor is there the possibility - even in an ideal company - that difficult staff won't be around at all. Nevertheless, there are still factors to consider when involved in by such a situation.
There will always be difficult staff even in the most fruitful and high flying of careers and city jobs. And as always, the buck stops with the management. The worst possible thing to do is to brush the issue of difficult members of staff under the rug and pray it disappears. It won't. The concern should be handled professionally and quickly as it'll only get worse if left unchecked.
From time to time, managers might see that specific employees are difficult to manage, as staff will all have their own one-of-a-kind features. Even especially good staff could be affected by bad days every so often. However, a situation whereby a staff member is a consistent annoyance might have to be handled sooner than later. As everyone is individual, each instance must be dealt with uniquely as well.
How to manage difficult staff members - deal with the facts
A sensible and effective manager should disregard any hearsay or office gossip that might be going around and focus solely on the facts on their own. Those spreading said hearsay should be handled, as what they are doing is a big problem for the rest of the team and the company as a whole. Managers should involve a member of the human resources team and confront the staff member in a private, quiet room - away from any potential distractions or interruptions - once a detailed investigation into the issue has been conducted.
How to manage difficult staff members - take a pragmatic approach
Your goal isn't to cause an argument; if tempers fray then the problem is just going to be increasingly complicated. A manager should take a reasoned approach, first highlighting the positive actions that they would want to see the member of staff take rather than focussing on the poor behaviour that's been so prevalent. If the concern is something quite clear such as on-going lateness, then instead of criticising the staff member for his/her timekeeping, just stress the importance of each employee arriving in work on time so that they can meet their goals.
It is also wrong to believe the poor behaviour is an intentional attempt at disobedience. It could be as a result of personal issues or a lack of motivation materialising itself in the workplace. If it's possible to locate the source of the problem then this is a major advantage when trying to locate a solution. The secret here is impartial, non-judgemental, open questions that need more explanation than a simple yes/no answer.
If you are able to show the staff member you're listening and genuinely concerned then this'll help to win their affections. A way to do this is to summarise everything they have said back to them afterwards.
How to manage difficult staff members - results take time
When dealing with difficult members of staff it is crucial they are included in coming up with the problem's solution. Employees are far more likely to work towards and stand by a decision they've had involvement in. The watch word for this part of the process is continuous improvement. If they show willingness to amend their behaviour then half of the battle is already won.
On the other hand, if it comes to your attention the worker in question is unlikely to amend their behaviour then you might have no option but to consider beginning termination procedures within the business' guidelines and policies.
If you are not experienced when it comes to handling difficult members of staff and would like to improve your skills, management training and executive coaching is a great measure to make sure you deal with your team in a fair, measured and effective way.