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Five tips to manage difficult top-performing team members

One of the most challenging issues for an employer in the workplace is dealing with a difficult top-performing team member. Whether they are impatient, demanding, rude or a perfectionist, here are five tips to help you manage them.

1. Try to understand
Difficult people are often very frustrated, so sometimes it is best to listen and try to understand the reason behind their behaviour. Past experiences may have taught them to push their way through an organisation, and a manager may need to reset this approach. 

2. Ask if you can help
By asking someone how you can help, you are focusing your interaction on a particular activity. You might be able to share the responsibilities of an issue that needs solving.

3. Limit the subject
When interacting with a difficult team member, limit the topic of discussion to address one thing at a time. Provide them with different options, so they can be the one to decide on the solution.

4. Check if they are difficult with customers
Customers may tolerate the difficult person because competing companies may not offer the same products or services, or your company may offer something they value more than the frustration of dealing with a difficult person. If this is the case, it is only a matter of time before they find a suitable replacement company. If your difficult employee is difficult with customers as well, address their behaviour immediately.

5. Document and alert HR
If you do not see an improvement in behaviour, then you may need to take a more formal approach. Document the occasions where the person was difficult to work with and make them aware of this impact on your team. Keep HR aware of your counselling. You may need them to help with properly dismissing the difficult person if things don’t improve.

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