How to Work With a Difficult Team Member

Every organization has had to work with a difficult team member, in some cases it could even be multiple difficult team members. Many factors can play a role in someone being difficult to deal with. Changes in their environment, such as home & family issues can impact all aspects of their life. It could be work or home issues from financial problems, restructuring of their position or getting their kids settled in a new school.

The truth is, in most cases, a difficult team member can improve significantly if the organization takes the appropriate steps to promote team building and celebrate small achievements.

Here are two ideas that will allow your team to build deeper connections and feel a sense of appreciation.

A team building activity:

  1. Create a “kindness” or “kudos” station. This is where a team leader or department manager will keep an envelope for each of their employees with their names on it. Each day other team members must commend their peers for a job well done or include a quick note of strength they have observed about their co-workers. Accumulate all of the positive notes for a period of two weeks to one month and then either distribute the envelopes to each team members or have a team meeting to read them out.
  2. Lead your coaching sessions with positivity. No matter how difficult it may be to find positive feedback for a difficult employee, it’s possible. Dig deep and find something that they do well. This could be as simple as a positive tone of voice on a call or even being on time every day for the last month. Take the time to identify at least one positive piece of feedback you could discuss. The next time that you need to address an issue start with your positive finding. “I want to start this meeting by thanking you for always being on time,” “Thank you for a Job well done on a recent call” and then address the concern and end with a resolution. “What could I do to help you,” “How could we work together for you to improve your performance?”.

Let’s face it, the more negative feedback a team member hears, the less important they will feel over time. With these two tips, you and your team will build more trust and sense of appreciation in the workplace.