As you've probably learned, sometimes you have an employee who doesn't respect you. When even one of your staff members has issues with you for any reason, that employee can lower overall morale and make your job much more difficult.

The true test of your abilities as a leader is how gracefully you handle difficult employees of all types. Your colleagues, co-workers, and other employees will likely take note of  your reactions to a disrespectful employee's treatment of you. To ensure you handle things as professionally as possible, here are a few tips for managing these challenging workers.

Maintain a Positive Attitude

As difficult as it may be, it's important to avoid lowering yourself to the employee's level. Even if the employee is throwing insults and negative comments your way, you should keep your temper in check and show only your most professional face. Instead of publicly chastising the employee, wait until the meeting is complete and schedule a private meeting in your office. Initially, try asking the employee to express any concerns and offer to repair any issues you can. Employees tend to feel more positive when they believe their opinions matter to the organization as a whole. If this doesn't work, it may be time to begin documenting behaviors in preparation for eventual disciplinary action.

Document Expectations

If discipline should become necessary, having your expectations of that employee clearly outlined in writing will help. This should be presented as soon as possible after a new worker is hired and revisited at least once a year to ensure those expectations are being met. Outline the duties of that specific job and make sure the employee has the support necessary to complete those duties. Many issues of disgruntled employees are the result of a lack of communication.

Resist Micromanaging

Being a successful manager means finding the right people and trusting them to do the job they were hired to do. If you micromanage your employees, you'll probably find they begin to resent your interference. This trust may lead an employee to rebel against the oversight, to lash out at you instead of simply asking to be entrusted with more responsibility. Through transformational leadership, leaders are more likely to create empowered, motivated employees who know their place within the organization. Call occasional meetings to not only have your employees share what they're doing but also to detail what you're doing.

Accept Blame

In some instances, the supervisor shares the blame in creating an environment of disrespect. Through being too lax in your management style, you may be encouraging an environment in which employees feel as though they have little guidance. If you directly, and privately, address these issues as you notice them, you may be able to improve your management style and earn your entire team's respect.

Draw the Line

Once you've taken measures to create a positive work environment but to no avail, it's time to have a stern talk with the unhappy employee. Mention specific instances when you felt the employee behaved inappropriately toward you, and let the employee know that while you're available to discuss any issues the employee is having, you expect a certain level of respect in return. By helping the employee see the impact these negative behaviors have on the team as a whole, you may be able to curtail the problem before it gets worse.

Discipline Insubordination

If your efforts are still not effective in improving the employee's overall attitude, you'll probably have to initiate disciplinary action. Attitudes can be subjective, so it's important to focus on specific behaviors. Insubordination can be a disciplinary behavior, especially when the behavior is in direct opposition to an employee's documented job description. During discipline, let the employee know that there will be consequences if the insubordination continues and remind him of his job's responsibilities. As difficult as it is to lose an employee, the loss may be a relief if the employee is a toxic influence on the office as a whole.

Respect often must be earned, even in the workplace. If you find that an employee is behaving disrespectfully, you'll get further by simply communicating with that employee. Failure to communicate could lead to an escalation of the problem until it spreads to the rest of the team, as well.

Published on: Oct 10, 2014