One of my favorite clients refers to her difficult employees as her “high-maintenance employees.”
The high-maintenance employee knows you are going out of town for an important business trip and chooses to drop a bomb on you as you are heading out the door to the airport. They invite themselves into your office and announce they “want to talk”.
They tell you about their dissatisfaction regarding how recent promotions were handled or want to share the gossip about your most recent hired employee. Your calendar means nothing to them. It’s all been bottled up and whether you want to or not, today you’re going to listen.
This employee gives you a hard time every time you try to change something in the office—especially if it is an attempt on your part to improve the business culture. They like things the way they are… especially if the culture is dysfunctional. Sound familiar?
Or maybe this employee is your best sales guy. He beats the bogey every month and is single-handedly able to drive a wedge between every department in your business. He’s rude, loud, and incredibly effective at selling whatever you sell. Every time you speak to him, your blood pressure goes up.
If this rings true for you, it’s important to understand that you are not alone. The high maintenance employee works everywhere. Only a few business owners have been lucky enough to avoid them. In fact, I typically find multiple high-maintenance employees working in the same business.
Another client had so many high-maintenance employees in his business that, in private, he referred to it as his “Adult Day Care Center”. Okay, you have to admit that is really funny. Maybe not.
How to deal with high-maintenance, difficult employees?
- Recognize the truth and commit to resolving the matter.
- Don’t put up with rude behavior. Draw the line every time an employee misbehaves. And if that employee happens to be your child or other relative, do so in private ONCE. After the warning is given, they should be reprimanded in public.
- The needy, insecure employee who is forever creating problems for everyone in the office is not worth keeping. Find a way to let them go. These employees often produce an inordinate amount of work so they milk it. They make you believe you can’t live without them. Trust me, you can.
- If you have to keep the superstar sales rep to keep the doors open, delegate their management to someone on your staff.
- And lastly, if you’re operating a business with more than one half dozen employees and virtually all employee issues are landing in your lap, you need to re-prioritize. The one, two, or more high-maintenance employees are going to eat you alive. Hire the best manager you can afford to manage all of your employees and focus on the future of your business.
If you do not take the steps to resolve the issues a high maintenance employee presents, they may actually succeed in distracting you enough, and ultimately destroy your business.
You know what you’ve got to do.
Holly also founded ExitPromise.com and to date has answered more than 2,000 questions asked by business owners about starting, growing and selling a business.
Latest posts by Holly Magister, CPA, CFP
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