Dealing with difficult employees

 In Employment

Over the years there have been lots of high profile cases where organisations have had to deal with difficult or troublesome employees – More recently I’m thinking about the England cricket team and Kevin Pietersen, the BBC and Jeremy Clarkson … the list goes on!

In all of these cases you have a ‘personality’ who is undoubtedly talented and brings a massive amount of kudos to these organisations but their behaviour is such that they cause issues for their respective employers which start to erode trust and ‘brand’ respectability.

The big question is, does the employer put up and shut up with the bad behaviour or do they bite the bullet and part company with their ‘star player’.

Do they put up and shut up for the sake of the bottom line or do they have that very difficult conversation!

Dealing with bad behaviour or a difficult employee means having a very difficult conversation with them, management need to be clear with the employee as to what they are doing wrong, giving explicit examples, and there is a crucial need to document everything.

There are other techniques that can be used in an attempt to improve matters, these include things like mediation, retraining, coaching or even relocating the disruptive employee to another area of the business where they may fit in better, but ultimately there may be no other option but to dismiss them.

We all know that personality clashes can lead to breakdowns in relationships between management and employees that can never be resolved. This can lead to the business trying to find other issues or reasons to dismiss employee, which may ultimately lead to an unfair dismissal claim.

Unfair dismissal can be easily avoided by investigating any personnel or behavioural problems thoroughly, this will allow for a fair disciplinary process, with all the facts and meetings clearly documented.

In some circumstances a well drafted settlement agreement (previously known as compromise agreements) could be an appropriate option as this provides protection for both parties and more importantly protects the reputation of both sides.

The worst thing any business can do is ignore a potential disciplinary issue, as it will likely escalate out of control and may end up with allegations of victimisation, discrimination, harassment or even constructive dismissal!

So, on balance, an employer will always be much better off dealing with a troublesome employee firmly but fairly, rather than risk having to defend complaints from other members of the team and a potentially costly employment tribunal claim.

If you are a business that needs to deal with a difficult employee and you need our legal help or you are an employee and you believe that you have been unfairly dismissed then please get in touch with us.

Call us on 0844 499 9302, email us at or complete our short contact form.

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