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If you have a ‘difficult’ employee, is exiting them the only solution?

Oooh, controversial question perhaps, but the answer is usually no. I say that on both legal and commercial grounds. There are many reasons why an employee might be considered ‘difficult’; including mental health, willingness to challenge authority, previous negative experiences at work, different life/cultural expectations, or just being unmotivated.

Putting it simply, there just aren’t enough ‘easy’ employees to go round all the businesses who want them. And even if there were, imagine all the creativity, insight, and constructive conflict which could disappear! If you want a really productive workplace in the longer term, you’ll need to have leadership skills and culture in place which promote listening, reflection, capacity for reasonable conflict, and willingness to adapt and compromise where needed. That’s what managing people is largely about.

So before you assume that a particularly ‘difficult’ character needs to be dismissed or encouraged to leave asap, challenge yourself to listen and connect with them. This is part of every leader's job, and it ultimately can be very rewarding. (Not to mention it saving you a potential fortune in legal fees!)

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