Not everyone gets along or is easy to manage. This is reality for those who are in a supervisory position.

In fact, at times, herding cats is probably easier than managing or organizing humans—especially if some of those people have innate, anti-management personalities.  Let’s go a step further and say that those people aren’t even likeable. How do you handle bad attitudes as their immediate supervisor?

  1. Write it down: If you fail to document an event in writing, it might as well not have happened. This goes for training, coaching, reviews, infractions, etc. Create a paper trail so you can refer back to it if more complicated problems arise in the future—like court-related problems.
  2. Make it objective: Avoid personal statements that can be interpreted as subjective like “I don’t like your attitude.” Be specific and immediate when calling out negative behavior. Instead say something along these lines, “Each time I ask you to do [that], you do [this].”
  3. Be clear: When communicating with difficult employees, be direct about what it happening and make it measureable. What does this mean? An example would be: “The company policy is A. You are doing B. This is a verbal warning that means, if the situation doesn’t change in X amount of time, it could result in your termination.”
  4. Look inward: When other people are being difficult, ask yourself what you can do to make the problem more manageable. Figure out what irritable situations annoy you the most, and then ask yourself why you are aggravated by that particular behavior or event. This awareness allows you to alter your reaction to their action, giving you a more controllable way to handle a negative situation.

It’s not always easy for managers to be in charge. If you have cantankerous employees, keep these tips in mind moving forward. Not only will you do your job well, but you might just win them over, also.