Talent

Do You Train Your Supervisors on How to Manage Challenging Employees?

Supervising employees is never easy, but some workers make the task particularly difficult. These challenging employees can try your supervisors’ patience and drain a lot of their time and energy. They can also be a disruptive influence, damaging morale and making it difficult for their coworkers to function productively. That’s why your supervisors need to know how to manage these employees so that they can help turn them into productive, positive workers.
Training Objectives
When the training is complete, supervisors will be able to:

  • Identify challenges associated with supervising difficult employees.
  • Manage your own feelings effectively.
  • Create a positive work environment for all.
  • Focus on problems, not personalities.
  • Respond positively to challenging employees, and treat them fairly.

Legal Overview
There are no laws or regulations that require you to train supervisors on how to deal with challenging employees. However, there might be legal issues associated with the supervision of these employees. Some of them may decide to sue your organization if they are discharged, claiming wrongful discharge or discrimination as the basis for their termination. Even if you can eventually prove that it was their behavior, not the supervisor’s or the organization’s, that was responsible for the termination, you will still have spent a great deal of time, effort, and money defending the lawsuit. The cost of a little training to help supervisors deal effectively with these employees is much less.


Need practical tips on keeping your workforce from being adversely affected by coworkers with challenging personalities? Check out BLR’s upcoming webinar, “Managing Challenging Personality Types” on November 7. Learn more.


Training Requirements
Employers should make sure that all supervisors have the skills and information they need to manage challenging employees. The training program should contain, at a minimum, the following elements:

  • How challenging employees can affect your department
  • How to deal effectively with the problems they create
  • How to use positive strategies to change negative behavior and attitudes

Training Tips
Here are several recommended interactive activities and materials to have on hand as you present the training.

  • Lead a discussion about supervisory challenges presented by difficult employees.
  • Review briefly your progressive discipline and termination policies. Materials to have on hand: Copies of your progressive discipline and termination policies.
  • Review briefly your organization’s attendance policy . Materials to have on hand: Copies of your attendance policy.
  • Briefly discuss your employee assistance program, if you have one, and explain the procedure for referring employees for counseling. Materials to have on hand: Copies of your employee assistance program brochure.
  • Briefly review your organization’s violence prevention policy. Materials to have on hand: Copies of your violence prevention policy.
  • Ask trainees to describe their experiences working with challenging employees.
  • Lead a discussion of possible causes for a difficult employee’s negative behavior or attitudes.
  • Review procedures for investigating employees’ complaints, and talk about special procedures for investigating problems that might have legal implications.

The information in today’s Advisor is adapted from BLR’s PowerPoint® training presentation, “Managing Challenging Employees.”


Have you ever had an, ahem, difficult coworker or employee? Who hasn’t? But in just 90 minutes, you can get valuable tips for “Managing Challenging Personality Types” by attending BLR’s upcoming webinar on November 7. Get more information and sign up here.


In tomorrow’s Advisor, we’ll give you a role-playing exercise you can use in your training, plus we’ll tell you all about an upcoming webinar on how to manage challenging personality types.