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Common Disruptive Staff Types

By: Thomas Muller - Updated: 22 Jun 2010 | comments*Discuss
Staff Warning Staff Development

The already formidable art of managing people is made even more difficult when the common difficult and disruptive employee types enter the fray.

Disruptive Staff Warning

Difficult employees have always been a bother to keep in line but it seems they are now more bothersome than ever. Not only have these troublemakers found more ways to make life difficult for their employers but they are now more aware of their rights in helping them to carry on.

According to recent research, 50% of UK employers will be dealing with some kind of poor conduct issue, capability problem or grievance, and more than a third face conduct issues on a weekly or monthly basis.

The survey, carried out by HR magazine Personnel Today and law firm Halliwells, also found that a large proportion of Human Resources professionals saw many so-called awkward employee cases as beyond hope. More than a quarter of them had even engineered the dismissal or redundancy of a troublesome individual without any attempt at rehabilitation, a bold admittance in this era of rampant legal claims.

Difficult Staff Development

The study shows that almost every employer will have to deal with difficult employees at some point. The type that causes the largest number of management troubles in the workplace is the ‘moaner’, the chronic malcontent that always has a problem with something but never a solution. Their unconstructive complaining about petty issues and general negativity can have a damaging effect on team morale and productivity, and also suck up needless company time.

One of the most difficult employees to actually manage is the bully, particularly those that favour the direct and aggressive type of bullying. As well as exhibiting threatening and violent behaviour towards a co-worker, the bully might also cause management headaches by harassing or discriminating against their fellow employees. Often the managers themselves are on the receiving end of the bully’s brunt. The liar is also a big cause of difficulties amongst managers, with their frequent dishonesty about issues such as lateness or even theft.

Warning Signs

Other common disruptive types include the employee that suffers from personal hygiene problems, such as foul body odour, the employee prone to surfing websites of a sexual nature, the fashion victim who constantly flouts company rules about dress, the office Lothario who badgers members the opposite sex and the addict, who struggles to manager their alcohol or drug dependencies.

Difficult employees do not have to fit so snugly into character types, the results of one survey found some alarming specific examples, such as an employee lying about having cancer, an employee who refused to commute using public transport because they claimed that it was the employer’s responsibility to get them to work, and an employee that was believed to be offering sexual favours to co-workers on company property.

Staff Development Problems

Although the workplace moaner might seem like a minor concern in comparison to some of these more extreme characters, the knock-on effects of their persistent behaviour can be disproportionately severe if not managed effectively. Ultimately the worst type of employee that a manager will have to face is the individual that persists in putting up barriers to prevent them from doing their work, and what’s more provokes others into doing likewise.

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