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Effective Strategies for Working with Problem Employees

Some employees refuse to do the duties as assigned

Problem employees. Difficult staffers. Workers who need behavior modification and attitude adjustments. However they're described, problem employees are the dread of every manager, and they require special skill and attention. As the experts attest, there's no silver bullet solution, no ready-to-use spiel or psychological exercise that can suddenly make a difficult employee easy to work with.

"When you are talking about dealing with well-entrenched personal qualities, you need to be a bit of a black belt in your personal skills and in your management," said Marie McIntyre, a workplace issues expert who writes a weekly syndicated career advice column, "Your Office Coach." She is also the author of The Management Team Handbook (Jossey-Bass, 1998) and Secrets to Winning at Office Politics (St. Martin's Griffin, 2005).

When it comes to advice for working with problem employees, experts offer numerous approaches covering various parts of the process. The first piece of guidance is simple–don't let staffers become problem employees in the first place. While that may sound like short and snappy advice, following it entails sustained effort on the manager's part. And the effort starts during the hiring process, said Michael Timmes, a senior human resource specialist at Kingwood, Texas-based Insperity, a national human resources service provider.

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